This blog is focused on continued improv education… technique and critique. Understudies, students and current performers are encouraged to used this blog as an assistant in training, leaning and growing in improv. We will try to make the content both entertaining and informative. Please feel out the form on the right with any specific question… and you are encouraged to comment and elaborate in then comment section.
Enjoy the reading!
The Jester’Z Training center is super excited to open registration for 6 different, totally fun filled air conditioned weeks of SUMMER CAMP!
Beat the heat this summer and send your kids and teens ages 8-17 to Jester’Z. We will be offering 4 sessions of 1 week Improv Comedy Camp and 2 sessions of 1 week Musical Improv Camp in June and July. We realize that in the past we were unable to accommodate campers who’s parents work full time, so we are now offering extended care as well. Discounts are available for multiple weeks as well as for registering multiple campers from the same household.
Camp is Monday-Friday 9am-4pm with AM Extended Care from 7:30am-9am and PM Extended Care from 4:00pm-5:30pm.
Jester’Z Brother’Z Productions, LLC
is proud to welcome a most respected improv artist and actor:
2:00pm Inside the Laughter Studio – 2 hour interview-style workshop hosted by Jef Rawls is for anyone looking to get started with or sharpen their comedic acting skills. Learn insider’s tips and tricks to better improv, comedy techniques, acting secrets and stories from On The Set of commercial set. Prerequisite: NONE. Age: ALL
6:00pm Jester’Z Improv Show – Pat joins the Jester’Z main stage cast for 90 minutes of all-ages improvised comedy!
9:00pm Jester’Z Improv Show – Warmed up and ready for another 90 minutes of non-stop, side-splitting all-ages comedy with Jester’Z Main Stage Cast.
Who is Pat Finn?
- Graduate of Marquette University
- Alumni of Second City of Chicago
- Alumni of Chicago’s ImprovOlympics Theatre
- Member of the Improv Troupe Beer Shark Mice
As Seen On:
- Late Night With Conan O’Brien
- That 70’s Show
- The King of Queens
- 3rd Rock From the Sun
- Drew Carey Show
- Curb Your Enthusiasm
- Marvin Marvin
- The Middle
- Dude, Where’s My Car?
- It’s Complicated
- I Love You, Beth Cooper
Most recognizable as the spokesman for TOYOTA in over 50 commercials over the last 10 years.
CLICK FOR TICKETS:
Pat Finn is a talented, comedic actor who has been with SBV for over 17 years, He who grew up in Wilmette, Illinois and is one of six children. He attended high school at Loyola Academy in Wilmette and graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1987. After graduation, he moved to Chicago where he worked as a beer salesman until joining the Second City National Touring Company. During this time, he was also performing improvisation with the Improv Olympic in Chicago.
After writing and performing in two Second City resident shows, Pat landed the part of George Wendt’s younger brother in “The George Wendt Show” and moved to L.A. Pat Just finished a year in the role of Dad Bob on the Nickelodeon hit “Marvin Marvin” and he is currently re-occurring as Mike’s best friend, Bill Norwood on ABC’s “The Middle”. He has also had re-occurring roles on “Murphy Brown”, “Third Rock From The Sun”, “Ed” and “My Boys”. Some of his other television credits include “Friends”, “Seinfeld”, “The Drew Cary Show”, “That 70’s Show”, “Las Vegas”, “Wizards of Waverly Place” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “House”. Pat’s feature film credits include “Dude, Where’s My Car”, “I Love You, Beth Cooper”, “Space Buddies”, “Santa Pups 2” and “It’s Complicated” opposite Meryl Streep.
Pat has also had commercial success with campaigns for “Got Milk?”, DiGiorno Pizza”, “Bell South”, “Toyota” and dozens of others. Pat continues to perform improv every week at ImprovOlympic Hollywood with his Chicago buddies in the critically acclaimed and award winning ensemble show, “BeerSharkMice”. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and three children.
Pat has worked with ” Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, Kathy Bates, Jerry Seinfeld, Candace Bergin, Alec Baldwin, Steve Carell, Stephan Colbert, Tina Fey, Amy Poller”
Who doesn’t like free? I mean personally it always catches my attention and if you are reading this then it surely has caught yours too. Our new Drop-In style improv classes are such a hit, and we are now offering 2 ways to get classes FOR FREE:
- FIRST CLASS IS FREE….so just show up!
- REFER SOMEONE TO TAKE CLASSES…
- If you are a student with a class pack purchased and you refer someone who buys a class pack we will add a FREE class to your class pack!
Like I said….who doesn’t love FREE~
Saturday, March 14th | 1-3 pm
We are thrilled to have one of our very own beloved JesterZ, Michael Yichao, in the house to facilitate an incredible workshop for improv and comedy students of all experiences and backgrounds. The workshop titled: “Make ‘Em Laugh, Then Punch Them In The Feels” is about digging into comedy through drama – finding truthful, deep characters and relationships, then cracking them open and exploding them out into the realm of the comedic and absurd. Being funny is serious business, and this workshop digs into the dichotomy and duality of serious fun.
I asked Michael who is the ideal attendee for this workshop and he said, “People with some improv experience who are maybe hungry for more improv and a desire to deepen and sharpen their acting skills. However, it is definitely open and appropriate for students of all skill levels.”
I’m excited for the Jester’Z Training Center to offer this incredible workshop because the very heart of it is how comedy opens the channel for truthful emotional connections. The reality is that this is something we could all benefit from…on or off the stage!
SPACE IS LIMITED to only 12 attendees, so be sure and register right away!
We are very excited to announce that JesterZ Improv Comedy will now be offering ‘drop in’ style classes for our beginning and advanced level improv classes!
Great! So… what does that mean exactly?
This means is that you can come and go as you please without having to commit to a full 8 or 12 week class as you did in the past. Whether you are brand new to improv and just want to see if you like it, or you are one of the hundreds who have been through improv classes before and just want to brush up on a particular skill and have some fun, this is for you!
OK…Cool! What about the FREE intro to Improv class once a month?
We will no longer be doing the intro class because if you have never taken an improv class at JesterZ before Your First Beginning Class Is FREE! Just show up or register to let us know you are coming.
So, how much is a class and how does this work exactly?
For both beginning and advanced you can purchase classes individually or in class packs. If you purchase a class pack you will be given a class card to keep track of your classes. Every time you take a class the instructor will punch your card.
How do we know what each class will be focused on?
Each week will focus on a different improv skill and will be taught by an instructor who specializes in that skill. We are excited for this new format as it will afford students the opportunity to work with all of our JesterZ, rather than just one. The calendar for the entire year is on the class page, so click here for the beginning calendar and click here for the advanced calendar.
How do I know if I am ready for advanced?
All students who wish to take the advanced improv class will need to be approved prior to making the purchase. Simply click here to register and then within 24 business hours we will send you a link to purchase if you have taken beginning improv and are ready for advanced. If you have not taken our beginning improv class recently, or are new to JesterZ, an instructor will call you personally to discuss what class will be best for you.
Hey….what about the performance showcases? How will that work?
Of course we thought about that!! On the 3rd Thursday of every month we will have a beginning and advanced student showcase. Any students who have taken at least 8 classes in their level will qualify to perform in the showcase.
So….what are you waiting for? Click here now to check out our classes
If you have any additional questions click here to send us an email!
I originally signed up for Jester’Z beginning improv class almost 2 years ago. It for realZ changed my life and in so many wayZ made me a better person. People say I’m funny so I figured for sure I’ll be good at improv. I mean that’s what people would say to me, so why not?
Well what I learned in the first 10 minutes was…IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BEING FUNNY! Say what?!?!?!?!?!
Improv is about thinking fast, fully listening, trust, staying present, relationships, and so much more… If you work in sales, as I do, beginning improv should be a pre-requisite for your company’s orientation in my opinion. Really if you’re a human being, beginning improv should be a pre-requisite for, I dunno….puberty? LOL… I think about the incredible advantage all the teens who take the teen beginning improv class get from learning such valuable skills at such a critical growing stage in their lives. Oh how different life might be had I learned this stuff then….excuse me… I digress…
Bottom line…I often feel like I want to drag people to the class and then say…”See I told you so”, but I am a firm believer that people have to decide to do things on their own. Now this goes way against my desire to want to control things, shocking I know that I can admit this, but at the end of the day where else can you go to grow as an individual and have an absolute blast and make amazing friends? (If you have an answer that is anything besides Jester’Z….please skip it…you get where I am going with this right?)
So, I’m curious….to anyone who has taken an improv class before, especially at Jester’Z….what made you decide to do it and what was your experience like? Please comment below and I will end this with a picture of my beginning improv class from 2 years ago…since ‘they’ say a picture is worth a thousand words…whoever ‘they’ are anyways…
What’s most important to you?
We work hard for our money, right? And although we Americans love to just throw money away, we don’t see it as throwing it away if it makes us happy. A good restaurant, a great movie, a unique oddity “as seen on TV” that we must have!!
Correct me if I’m wrong, but it only feels like we are throwing money away if we didn’t like it. The price of a movie hasn’t changed much over the last few years – but you and I have both walked out of movie or comedy show saying “that was a waste of money”. If you don’t like it – the Value of your entertainment goes down. LOVE IT? Would you pay double?
Whatever makes you happy, right?
I’ve taught improv comedy classes for over 13 years. Below is a conversation I regularly have with my advanced improv students:ME: “What does our audience want?” THEM: “To be entertained” “How do we do that?” “um… We make them laugh.” “How do we do that?” “um… we say or do something funny.” “So if you make them laugh, it’s guaranteed they are entertained?” “um… not necessarily.”
So, if we are in the business of entertaining all ages – how do we do that? I think most improv groups, comics, writers, poets, musicians, (insert more entertainers here) on an professional level give the audience what they want. It’s gotta be a lot more than they expect, because “making them laugh” isn’t entertaining enough.
For the purpose of my point, I will use movies. However, books, TV, commercials, plays, etc. all can be used as well.
I love a good movie. I think everyone can relate to movies, because there are good movies, great movies and terrible movies! Let’s look at these and analyze why we love them… I’ve come up with 3 denominators.
Consider the following:
Shoot em up, blow em up!! Car chases, adventures, fighting, superhero’s, etc. James Bond, Ironman, Die Hard, Mission Impossible stuff!! Last year Ironman 3 grossed 408 Million dollars… We love it and can’t get enough action in our movies.
2. Emotion ;O)
Sappy, lovey-dovey, chick-flick love stories. From The Notebook to Sleepless in Seattle – our heartstrings yearn for feel-good movies. Love story and fantasies that give our routine, daily life, a little dose of hope.
It’s information about what’s going on, who’s involved and where it’s happening. Documentaries have hours of interviews, facts, figures, opinions – the details that peak our curiosity and arouse our intellect. Details help us understand what’s going on… period.
If you are missing details you are bound to get a bad review!!
Every movie has a variety of these three
Think about it… what is your favorite movie? Why? Because it provides you with just the right amount of action, emotion and details (depending on the genre) and they present it with engaging characters and story to support the right balance of those elements. If an action movie has too much sappy romance or a chick-flick doesn’t have enough detail – are you satisfied as a viewer?
So what does all this have to do with the Entertainment Value of an improv comedy show?
Let’s go back to our conversation:“What does an audience want?” “To be entertained” “How do we do that?”
Let’s insert information we just learned:“We provide audiences with a show where each scene has a variety of Action, Emotion and Detail – all wrapped up in fun, energetic improvised skits. Since they are coming to a comedy show, we add in the fundamentals of humor. Every scene should have details that helps them understand who, where and what is going on; a range of emotions (how do I feel about what was just said or done); and action that keeps them visually stimulated and anxious for what’s next.”
When you give the audience
MORE than they expected,
the “VALUE” of the entertainment
Over the years, friends, reporters, patrons and students have asked me “Who are your favorite comedians?” So I thought I’d share with you, my Top 10 comedic “GREATS” of all-time – the ones that inspire me, each for different reasons – but they all have one thing in common – Clean Comedy:
- Carol Burnett – quite possibly the strongest comedian hands down!! From her variety of characters to her deadpan delivery
- Tim Conway – his responses to everything, his comedic timing was flawless. and most importantly his PTC Integrity award recipient for life long clean comedy.
- Bob Newhart – dry, straight forward and proof that comedy is a serious business
- Dick Van Dyke – his physical comedy, facial reactions and he “has fun” with all he does
- Red Skelton – his wide variety of characters and facial reactions
- Bob Hope – every stand up performances in his USO tours is better than any stand up comic today
- Lucille Ball – her delivery, her facial expressions and emotional reactions
- Laurel & Hardy – true “straight man / funny man” team… the masters of slapstick and the use of silence
- The Marx Brothers – The use of their other talents to compliment their funny (singing, dancing, musical instruments)
- Bill Cosby – his clean stand up career, his “everyday people” style, and family values he incorporates
and although he missed the mark on “clean comedy” I must give recognition to Robin Williams – quite possibly the fastest comedic brain EVER… his mouth cannot keep up with his ideas.
When I tell my students to study comedic actors, I tell them to avoid MANY of the comedians of today. If they want TRUE comedic genius – watch any of the above list… they understood “why” audiences laughed. There was no “shock” value in their work. They understood what it meant to set up a joke, set up your partner for a punchline, etc.
I may also say that this list is just the list for the clean comedians that inspire me. I have a separate list that includes more recent greats like Dan Ackroyd, Steve Martin, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Monty Python, Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Gaffigan, etc. etc. – the list goes on and on and includes more recent comedians. That list will be made another day.
Who inspires you? Who are your favorite comedians? and WHY?? Go to our facebook page and give us your list!!
Author: Preston Smith
When people hear I do improv the expect me to be much funnier they I actually am. Recently, I was told by a group that I presented to that I was not nearly as funny as they had hoped… they announced prior to my presentation that I do improv (thanks, right?).
The truth is, improv is a team sport, It is hard for me to do improv on my own, I need other people. The pinnacle of improv group performance is referred to as group mind. It is hard to explain what group mind is, but every improvisor that has achieved it, they know what it feels like. It is a lot like being able to finish your best friends sentence.
Group mind is best achieved through, listening and agreement. If you are listening, your will understand and know what needs to happen next in a scene. If you are agreeing, you are able to accept what needs to happen in a scene and provide the important information to make it happen.
Author: Preston Smith
Ask yourself at the beginning of every scene:
Who is this person to me?
How do I feel about them?
Asking yourself these questions will help you focus on the emotion and relationship of the scene.