About Chris Trew

@ChrisTrew is co-founder of The New Movement in Austin, Tx and New Orleans, La. He's been a performer, student or teacher at nearly every improv festival in North America and he's the co-author of the upcoming Improv Wins book. He performs improv regularly with The Megaphone Show and with improv BFF in the duo show Chris and Tami.

Which NFL player would make the best troupe mate?

Football season is here, America, and what better way to celebrate it than by figuring out a way to talk about football and improv? Improv Wins sent an email out to some football fans slash improvisers with one simple question – Which player would make the best troupe mate and why?

Ready to see the responses? Hut hut hike!

If your scene is feeling uninspired then use physical touch or eye contact to imply relationship.

Jason Witten would clearly be the best troupe mate. He definitely is a straight man and UBH-er. But think of all the characters he can pull from: pimp-son Dez, knucklehead Martellus Bennett, womanizing Tony Romo, cookie eating Wade Phillips and the list goes on. Awesome double threat! – Jason Sawyer

I think it would be Marquis Colston.  He is widely known as having some of the best hands/body control of any wide receiver which I think would make him killer at object work.  He is one of the top players in the game, but he has really never tried to cash that in.  That is how I know he would be the ultimate scene partner.  He would easily adapt to what ever character/perspective/status the scene needed and he would have no ego about it. – Chris Carrington

I tend to like to pack on the punishment for my troupe mates so I’m going to pick Matthew Stafford. The guy is known to be able to take more than a hit or two and keep on going. Anyone has watched this video can attest to this fact. Also, he can put up amazing numbers (scene work) without getting much personal attention (laughs). This makes me and the rest of the troupe look like a bunch of Megatrons and if we need to take him down a peg we can just remind him that he looks like a turtle in this picture. – Brady James

Obviously, Martellus Bennett would be the best troupe member.  He got (had) Jerry Jone money, I-phong money and loves Cap’n Crunch.  He has more memorable quotes than he does memorable catches though, so “show don’t tell” Marty B.  Dang.  Also, he’s an Aggie. – Adam Artho

Ray Lewis. First of all, you don’t not laugh when Ray Lewis wants you to laugh. If you have seen his pre-game introduction dance (Twinkletoes) you know this dude is down to get crazy on stage. Also notice the bit of scene work at the beginning. Very nice. Lastly, rumors (Rumor) are he murdered some dudes knowing his boys had his back. Taking chances are huge for improv. UBH Baybay! – Clay Barton

Without question Jason Witten is a top tier tight end in the NFL. What makes him so great as a player is what would also make him “the perfect troupe member.” He’s a hard worker, reliable, supportive, and has no desire to be in the spotlight. Witten has managed to stay under the radar and keep a low profile all the while climbing his way up to fourth (all time) in receptions for tight ends. I’ll take a hardworking, humble, badass who plays for the greater good any day!

First Come

At the Improv Wins Conference last January, there was a panel concerning the use of suggestions in improv shows. They discussed whether to take one or not? Do you need one just because you’re doing a Harold? Is it against the law to not take a suggestion if you’re name isn’t TJ or Dave?

I’m not here to argue suggestions vs. no suggestions (you should of gone to the conference for that doozy). I’m actually here defending suggestions (kinda) though I’m one of those guys who’s like “you don’t need to take suggestions, geez, get off my back”. Let me clarify what this post is doing here.

If you’re going to take a suggestion, take the first one that comes.

Because if you ask the audience for “anything” but they say something you don’t want, then you appear silly because the look on your face is “I wish I hadn’t asked for anything”. So then you ask for something else but the audience is crestfallen and just sits there.

Then the next time you’re like “I’ll ask for something specific like a location or a song lyric, that’ll show ‘em” but you still don’t get what you want so you have to ask for more.

Then you blame a show or two on the dumb-dumb suggestion.

Then you get in an argument with a troupemate over what to ask for or how to ask for it.

Then your troupe falls apart and you’re all alone.

I have a suggestion, take the first suggestion you hear or don’t take suggestions at all.

Part 2: Is the iO Summer Intensive Worth $1100?

(Part 2 of a Series. Part 1 is Here)

I took my first improv class1 in Fall 2004 and immediately fell in love with the art form and the people. Since I was in New Orleans at the time and there wasn’t much of a scene in place, I took my future to an internet search. There I learned the general consensus that if you’re serious about improv you should probably move to Chicago.

After digging around, clicking and turning over web rocks I discovered that the famous Improv Olympic (iO) was resurrecting their “Summer Intensive” special. I don’t have to move to Chicago to get a Chicago-quality education? I’m in. I don’t have any money to pay for this? I’ll sell my car2. I can’t keep my job if I leave for a month on such short notice? Okay, bye!

With a meager amount of cash, no car and no job, I was gone. I had to leave a lot behind to take this journey but I never thought twice. My best friend from junior high school was going to let me stay at his house so I didn’t have to worry about rent3.

The first day of class about 45 students sat in the Del Close Theater and awaited our assignments. We’d be separated into 3 groups and each group would stick together for the entire 5 weeks. Of the 15 people in my group, 5 of us had some previous improv experience and were pretty serious about getting better. A couple people were actors and the rest were looking for something fun to do in the Summer. We quickly bonded and began developing a ground mind.

Our tuition also got us mostly free shows4 so we watched everything. The students who opted to go out instead of watching shows were definitely more than a few steps behind the ones who were front row for every show. I estimate I saw about $500 worth of shows for free that summer.

The instructors were mostly high quality. Nobody shared teachers that summer so if Class #1 had Jason Chin for Level 3, Class #2 and #3 didn’t get to work with Mr. Chin. Every teacher did their best to provide a “camp” feel to their classes, including joining us for lunch and chatting post shows.

At the end of the Summer we had a graduation performance to a packed house. Charna5 was there, our teachers were all there and our fellow intensive students were there as well. Although there was no formal ceremony, it was a good ending to a fun summer.

Was the iO Summer Intensive worth it? As a relatively new improviser without a creative homebase and a desire to taste “big city” improv, yes it was. Because of iO I know what’s it like to do, watch and think about this artform in a theater every day for 5 weeks straight. With the amount of improv blossoming all over the country, I’m not sure you need Chicago to do that nowadays. The success of the iO Summer Intensive probably has a lot to do with that.

Show 5 footnotes

  1. I’m not counting the “Improv Class” I took in college theater because it was uncomfortably hot in the classroom all semester long and everything we did was completely forgettable. I’m surprised I ever gave it another shot.
  2. 1998 White Ford Mustang with a 5 year old Sportsman-brand Honey Bun in the glove compartment
  3. Turns out he lives about an hour away from the theater and he also had 11 cats. I ended up sleeping in parks, rooftops, family members of other friends and sometimes not at all to make sure I was on time for class
  4. Still had to pay to see TJ and Dave on Wednesdays
  5. The owner, co-founder and leader of iO

Want to sponsor a badass weekend of comedy workshops and shows?

The Improv Wins Conference is this January 6th-8th in Austin at the University of Texas, Spiderhouse Ballroom and The New Movement. It’s a weekend of comedy workshops featuring instructors from Chicago, New Orleans, Houston, Austin, Dallas and Las Vegas as well as shows featuring performers from all over the country. It’s the first event of its kind and it’s looking for a handful of sponsors to pull this baby off.

Your generous sponsorship of $125 gets you the following perks:

– Free admission to all shows during Improv Wins
– Four free tickets to any show at The New Movement (expiration date: Never!)
– Your business blasted on our family of social networks (including The New Movement’s twitter accounts for Austin, Houston and New Orleans plus Facebook pages for Studio8, The New Movement and Improv Wins) leading up to, and during the festival
– Your business mentioned before every single show during Improv Wins
– 1 Conference Pass enabling you to take every single workshop during Improv Wins
– The opportunity to promote your business with giveaways/promotions throughout the festival
– Your good looking banner ad on this good looking website

Questions? Want to make magic happen? Talk to co-producer Chris Trew via email (christrew AT gmail.com).

Improv Wins is a production of Studio8 (Comedy Central’s The House That Drips Blood on Alex) and The New Movement (producers of Hell Yes Fest and the Megaphone Marathons, as seen at FunFunFun Fest and multiple comedy festivals and tours across the country).

5 Line Scenes: The Daily Affirmation Warmup

This is not a new video by means, as it went viral way back in 2009ish, but the core of this child’s message is pretty dang relevant and we think it would make for a ridiculously delightful warmup exercise.

Stand in a circle1, taking turns saying all of the things you like. Be sure and mention some positive things about the people you’re about to play with on stage. Mention something about pajamas.

Now you’re warmed up, feeling fun and you got to stand on a sink for minute or so2.

5 Line Scenes are short blurbs about various happenings in the improv world. Got something we should post about? Drop a reply below!

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Shocking!
  2. Props to Reagan Ward for digging up the video and passing it along

Is the iO Summer Intensive Worth $1100?

(Part 1 of a Series)

Each summer, iO Chicago offers the chance to take (almost1) their entire program in one month for the sum of $1100. Of course you’ll also have to find a place to sleep. And you need to eat. And you’ll probably want to check out other shows in the Chicago area while you’re there. So, depending on your tastes, you might be looking at around $2,000 for your month of improv.

The program as explained by the iO website:

The Summer Intensive condenses the entire iO Theater school of thought into five incredible weeks. The class meets every Monday through Thursday from 11am to 5pm for five weeks. Each week, a different iO teacher instructs the class in a particular level of curriculum. All of our teachers for the Summer Intensive are currently teachers in our Training Center. Best of all, the class culminates in a performance here in our theater!

So, is it worth it? How soon should you sign up? What can you expect? This 2005 iO Summer Intensive Alumni has some answers for you, coming in Part 2!

And, Beans! 2

Show 2 footnotes

  1. The intensive covers levels 1-4B, whereas their actual curriculum goes up to 5 and 5B
  2. True story: One time an instructor from the Annoyance Theater insisted on ending every scene with "Beans!" because she was desperately trying to be unique.”

5 Line Scenes: Funny Bones and the Pepsi Refresh Project

Yeah, we mostly focus on the Long side of improv forms around these parts, but you can’t deny how cool this is. New Orleans based Funny Bones is a group dedicated to performing improv games in hospitals for kids. That’s pretty incredible and you can help them become even more incredible by voting for their idea on the Pepsi Refresh Project.

We’ll let you get the dirt on how it works and for those who like to click and watch things, check out the video from Funny Bones below. When you’re finished up, head over Pepsi Refresh Project and vote1 for Funny Bones!

5 Line Scenes are short blurbs about various happenings in the improv world. Got something we should post about? Drop a reply below!

Show 1 footnote

  1. You can use your Facebook login to do this so don’t let any fears of new form signups dissuade you!