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IMPROV STUDENT RESOURCES

RECOMMENDED READING:

RECOMMENDED LISTENING:  

  • Curtis Retherford on framing, game, and justification
  • improv4humansavailable on Spotify & Stitcher – Matt Besser of UCB hosts a rotating cast of himself + 3 improvisers as they discuss current events or personal matters and perform improvised, audio only scenes (often in the structure of a Harold or a Living Room)
  • Comedy Bang Bang – available on Spotify & Stitcher – Scott Aukerman hosts an interview style character improv show in which different comedians and improvisers join Scott to discuss anything under the sun – everything that is said and done on the show is completely improvised and while there is no proper break out into scene work, the entire show is structured to engage a prepared character in uncertain circumstances 
  • Stormchaser The Podcastavailable on Spotify, Stitcher, & iTunes – Anatasha Blakely, Travis Cox, and Andrew Pish of UCB/Second City/iO West, host a series of discussions regarding the world of improv – rotating between episodes of interviews with veteran improvisers from all over the country, improv terminology (mini episodes), and game tape breakdowns (where they watch back and critique their own improv performances)
  • Exploring Improv available on iTunes – Andy Barrett hosts a series of interviews with improv teachers from all over the country discussing all things improv; from improv techniques, to teaching styles, to different exercises, and beyond, this is a fantastic resource for diving into the minds of your favorite instructors 

OTHER IMPROV RESOURCES:

PUNCH UP, PUNCH SIDEWAYS, BUT DON’T PUNCH DOWN.

Punching Up is making jokes at the expense of someone who is of higher power, class, or privilege. It is also called “speaking truth to power,” which is an expression for confronting authority figures, oppression, and injustices.

Examples:

  • Give a man a gun and he will rob a bank. Give a man a bank and he will rob everyone.
  • Why do straight people even need dating apps? Don’t they meet each other at grocery stores?

Punching Sideways is making jokes at the expense of yourself and your own direct experiences and birthright.

Example from a Hispanic who is a burn survivor: I learned that when a Mexican catches on fire, it does not smell like fajitas.

Example from a non-cisgender person: When I was in Vancouver, we saw a road called the Trans Canada Expressway and I said, “What, was it assigned USA at birth?”

Punching Down is making jokes at the expense of people from historically marginalized and underrepresented communities based on age, disability, gender, marriage status, size, veteran status, pregnancy and maternity, race/ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation. Punching down is insulting, offensive, and often bigoted. Punching down could mute underrepresented voices in comedy and reject inclusivity. Racist jokes, sexist jokes, gay jokes, rape jokes, ableist jokes, ageist jokes, are all examples of punching down. They are all at the expense of marginalized groups. Targeting marginalized groups continues to abuse the already abused. Always punch up. Never punch down.

Examples:

  • Question: Is Google male or female? Answer: Female, because it doesn’t let you finish a sentence before making a suggestion.
  • My least favorite person in the world is Texas Governor Greg Abbott, also known as, “Hot Wheels.”