My improv starter post series, based off of @macgenie microblogvember prompts feels like it’s run it’s course. It was a great exercise for me but I don’t think I’m getting value out of it anymore. So I’ll use the prompts to keep going on the daily posts but not necessarily with the improv starter theme. I’m confident I’ll be able to hit the 30 days in a row mark and hopefully many more.

Stay

  • Tim, our dog obedience school is really taking off!
  • Babe, don’t leave me. Stay with me…
  • Doctor, I cant move my arm

What’s this post all about? Microblogvember(#)(https://micro.welltempered.net/2019/11/01/microblogvember.html) is a daily writing prompt the folks at micro.blog are participating in. I’m using the one word prompt as a suggestion for who, what and where(#)(https://blog.chadmoore.net/2019/11/02/if-youve-ever.html) offerings as we would do in an improv performance. I look up the word, and write as many openings as I can think of off the top of my head.

Touch

  • Dad, tell me about that touchdown you three in high school again
  • Careful near that electric fence, Private
  • Ewww! Jimmy don’t touch me you’re gross.

What’s this post all about? Microblogvember(https://micro.welltempered.net/2019/11/01/microblogvember.html) is a daily writing prompt the folks at micro.blog are participating in. I’m using the one word prompt as a suggestion for who, what and where(https://blog.chadmoore.net/2019/11/02/if-youve-ever.html) offerings as we would do in an Improv performance. I look up the word, and write as many openings as I can think of off the top of my head.

Space

  • Bro, move over, you’re taking up the entire couch!
  • With this mission, we move the human race deeper into the cosmos than ever before. Captain, launch!
  • Janet, I still feel like there’s something between us…

What’s this post all about? Microblogvember(https://micro.welltempered.net/2019/11/01/microblogvember.html) is a daily writing prompt the folks at micro.blog are participating in. I’m using the one word prompt as a suggestion for who, what and where(https://blog.chadmoore.net/2019/11/02/if-youve-ever.html) offerings as we would do in an improv performance. I look up the word, and write as many openings as I can think of off the top of my head.

Cold

  • I didn’t have enough money for the heating bill. It’s going to be a tough winter honey
  • Ah my best customer, would you like your usual flavor today Jim?
  • Get your feet off me! They’re like ice cubes!!

What’s this post all about? Microblogvember is a daily writing prompt the folks at micro.blog are participating in. I’m using the one word prompt as a suggestion for who, what and where offerings as we would do in an improv performance. I look up the word, and write as many openings as I can think of off the top of my head.

Star

  • Did you ever think it would be like this Gertrude!?? The fame, and money. We’re stars!
  • Captain, we’re getting an extremely odd gamma radiation signature from Venus.
  • Jimmy, your exam answers were stellar. You’ve earned yourself an A+!

What’s this post all about? Microblogvember is a daily writing prompt the folks at micro.blog are participating in. I’m using the one word prompt as a suggestion for who, what and where offerings as we would do in an improv performance. I look up the word, and write as many openings as I can think of off the top of my head.

Frightening

  • Honey did you hear that noise in the basement!??!
  • yes, Barton, my trusty assistant, soon all will cower in fear from me muhhahahhhaaaa!
  • Mom, I want to be pennywise for Halloween!

What’s this post all about? Microblogvember is a daily writing prompt the folks at micro.blog are participating in. I’m using the one word prompt as a suggestion for who, what and where offerings as we would do in an improv performance. I look up the word, and write as many openings as I can think of off the top of my head.

Stick

  • I tell you what, Lenny, these ribs sure do stick to your ribs! mmmm mmmm good.
  • Oh, I’ve tried mediatation, bruh. I just can’t make it a habit
  • Dad, coach said I really stuck the landing today!

What’s this post all about? Microblogvember is a daily writing prompt the folks at micro.blog are participating in. I’m using the one word prompt as a suggestion for who, what and where offerings as we would do in an improv performance. I look up the word, and write as many openings as I can think of off the top of my head.

Street

  • My Lord, the peasants! They are rioting in the street.
  • Honey, can you remind me where I’m supposed to turn again?
  • Dad I got my gear, let’s go out front and play hockey!

What’s this post all about? Microblogvember is a daily writing prompt the folks at micro.blog are participating in. I’m using the one word prompt as a suggestion for who, what and where offerings as we would do in an improv performance. I look up the word, and write as many openings as I can think of off the top of my head.

Mean

  • Dolores, I don’t like the way you spoke to me last night
  • Dad, I did throw an interception but my coach was such a jerk to me
  • David, don’t speak so harshly to the dog!

What’s this post all about? Microblogvember is a daily writing prompt the folks at micro.blog are participating in. I’m using the one word as a suggestion for who, what and where offerings as we would do in an improv performance.

Fancy

  • Honey that new coat looks fantasic
  • Oh dear, I’ve spilt my fountain pen ink all over myself
  • Your aunt will be here in 10 minutes and the house is still a mess!

What’s this post all about? Microblogvember is a daily writing prompt the folks at micro.blog are participating in. I’m using the one word as a suggestion for who, what and where offerings as we would do in an improv performance.

If you’ve ever seen an improv show, you’ve likely heard one of the performers ask the crowd for a suggestion. This one word, or short phrase, is used to connect the performers to the audience and inspire scenes. Sometimes that word is not literally used in a scene, it’s really just a jumping off point. I’d thought I’d uses these microblogvember prompts to spark an idea for a scene each day.

We improvisors focus on the “who what where” of a scene to build a relationship betweenthe characters we are making up on the spot. So my responses will likely be a short post with a who what and where.

Mark

Son, if you draw all over your homework, the teacher wont be able to read it.

That’s my prompt and response for the day. If I were to start a scene with that offer, the relationship is pretty clear, as is the what, and the setting could be inferred.

I’ll keep doing this each day from the prompts.

A couple of things surprised me last night before my first performance of improv for an audience. I was very nervous while commuting to the theatre. So much so that I serious considered turning around and not showing up. I made it through that self doubt, and got to the theatre. That’s a bit unlike me. I knew I’d be nervous, but to consider bailing out at the last minute was not like me.

The second surprise was that the nervousness just instantly disappeared when the show started. Our group “One size fits all” went on second. When the first group’s feet hit the stage all my tension and nervous energy simply disappeared. I’m sure it had something to do with the warmups we had as a full team (every performer who participated in the show) and as individual teams. My teacher, Tara had us do this really wonderful warmup she called Pulse. Standing in the wings of the stage, in near darkness we played a silent little game that really aligned us and built some real synchronization for us as a team.

But again, that drop was strange. That energy just went away and I couldn’t wait to take the stage. A friend referred to it as a roller coaster and it certainly had that feeling to me. I want more of it.

All the Sprint ceremonies are today, the “all in one day” model if you will. Plus, my first ever improv performance is tonight! So it’s a Big Day. Today I’ll be hyper-focused on being present for the Dev and Comedy teams I am on.

Reviewing notes and the upright citizens brigade book on improv

Come into a scene with an intention. Look to find agreement with your partners as efficiently as possible to build a platform for a shared reality. Once the first odd thing happens in that reality you can tilt the platform to find a game.

Improv class was great tonight. We’re all light years ahead of where we were a month ago. Still more much learning and practice to do!

I’m better at not entering a scene in nuetral. I still have challenges starting scenes. Have to keep it simple and specific.

Surfing the flow

I caught up with a friend tonight. He said:

Surfing is like riding pure energy. There’s a moment where you transfer natures energy through the board to your feet and up through your body; out to your outstretched arms. Before it all falls apart and returns to the water.

I like this a lot. I’m now asking myself how do I make performing sketchnoting, bass guitar and improv more like this?

Is it knowing tools and process well enough so that you can detach from the everything in your life and focus on the flow. The now. The energy.

Or maybe just focus on that flow and make mistakes until you get to ride it a bit. Repeat until you know the tools and process and can therefore stay in flow longer.

I’m performing in an improv show for the 1st time in front of an audience on 10/29. Until now it’s been classes and practices in front of other performers & teachers. What’s the word that means excited to finally get in front of people and terrified to do so at the same time?

The Five-Set

I suppose I’m starting a new series of posts. These will be based on the five things I’m ruminating on, practicing for work, parenting, some other aspects of my life. And for fun, of course!

I’m very interested in the overlap between these areas:

  • The Agile mindset, originally a way to develop software, now being practiced in other places
  • Performing Improv comedy, and how being in the moment and trusting your partners is paramount.
  • Mindfulness, as we in the West have been practicing it to reduce distractions and focus.
  • Stoicism, the ancient philosophy, not the modern “deny your feelings” BS that seems to be hanging around. I think that the philosophy was founded on understanding what is in your control and what is not, and how choose actions that are beneficial to yourself and others.
  • Visual Communication. How our stories and narratives combined with images allow humans to gain faster and deeper knowledge and empathy.

If each of these is an ellipse laid upon each other, the intersection is where I’m focusing as I study and act in each area. See the ABCDE section in the middle of the diagram. This is the Five-set as it’s known in a Venn diagram. Hence the name of this series of posts.

5 Ways to Practice Being in the Moment. Nice write up on how Improv demands you to be present, in the moment. Which is something I need to do in Improv and elsewhere.

Proportions

I’ve started a retake of Improv 201. My teachers and I thought another go at 201 was the best course of action. I have to work on being more specific in scene as my actions are too vague at times. Also, trusting myself to say the first thing that comes to mind when finding the emotional reaction in a scene. That last bit is a quote from my previous teacher, Jen. I’ll keep that all in mind as I go through the class.

Tonight my new teacher Tara said something that resonated with me in the context of improv, but also in my interests in Stoicism, at the job as an Agile Coach, and as a parent.

You have two eyes, two ears, and one mouth; use them proportionally.

That one is a keeper.

Improv 201 class starts 9/16. So excited!

Over lunch today, I had a great conversation with a fellow Scrum Master at the office. We chatted about the similarities and differences between improv comedy and improved musical performances. More alike than different of course. I’d argue like most things in life.

The worse you make it for him, the funnier it is.

At the improv jam tonight, the facilitator Andrew Morgan gave the group some pointers throughout our time together. One of them was to increase the intensity of the scene as it went on. Not so much in terms of volume or crazy antics but more in terms of raising the stakes.

I recently wrote my first comedy sketch. It’s not perfect, but I’m proud of it. Been something I’ve wanted to do for a while and it feels nice to get it out of my head and out into the world. It’s a five minute scene (ballpark) about someone who works in a corporate office. I asked some people for feedback on it, and I got a similar bit of advice.

A funny person I know said (paraphrasing), try to get the character closer to what they want in each interaction, and then right when he’s about to get what he wants, take it away. Then do that again and again. Each time increase the reasons he can’t get what he wants in terms of improbability or absurdity.

I’m a Star Wars nerd. Ever since A New Hope came out when I was 5, it’s played a part in my life. On the way home from the theatre, my dad ruminated and asked “how did they do that”?

I didn’t realize that what we just experienced wasn’t real or maybe I did on some level, but I had suspended my disbelief 100%. I asked how did who do what? He said it must be someones job to tell the story and make the special effects.

Since then when people asked what I wanted to do when I grew up, the answer was “make Star Wars movies”. I didn’t know how or what specifically until later.

I don’t love every Star Wars movie now that I’m older. But I really enjoyed The Last Jedi . One of the reasons I liked it so much (spoilers) was Rey’s backstory. She’s not a “chosen one”; her coming isn’t prophetic. I listened to a podcast with the writer/director where he talked about why he made the choice for her backstory. He said it was because (paraphrasing again) that it would be the hardest thing for her to hear and deal with.

I heard another podcast recently that taught me more about writing than anything I’ve read before. I fall victim to embracing a structure. This should happen at page X, that should happen at page Y, at the bottom of the Harmon Story Circle is where you do the plot twist. The podcast talked about why those things tend to happen at those specific intervals. The transcript is here.

In this podcast Craig Mazin says:

What you write is an ironic disruption of stasis. Ironic as in a situation that includes contradictions or sharp contrasts that is, and hear me out, genetically engineered to break your character’s soul.

In my previous life as an animator, all these things ring true as well. It’s all narrative after all. Be clear, have status exchanges, raise the stakes, make the character struggle.

People love good characters because they change based on the obstacles they face in order to get what they want/need. As a writer we get to be mean. We purposefully put these obstacles in their way to knock them back to where they started.

It’s kinda fun to be mean.

I now understand that this works in all forms of storytelling; comedic sketches, film, and in the moment of improvisation on the stage. Maybe in standup too? Perhaps even the reverse is true in the narratives we tell when we are building software via User Stories and Journey Maps. Reduce User Pain, make more enjoyable experiences. But that’s another post.

How you make people feel

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. - Maya Angelou

This quote came across my radar again and it’s been working away at me in the background all day today. At work I’m focusing on coaching to help people get past limits and anything that blocks them. At play I focus on making people laugh through improv and comedy writing. I’m new to the writing part and I haven’t fully articulated my goals with that. However it’s along the lines of noting our differences so that people understand we aren’t that different after all.

I’m hoping people remember that I made them feel that challenges truly are opportunities and I made them laugh along the way. To be connected to themselves and to the rest of the world, I suppose.