Sick Puppies Cast Member Q&A with Sara Solano!

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Sara, you’ve been doing improv for a while. How did you find out about Sick Puppies Comedy?

Cast member Robyn Cassel eavesdropped on a conversation I was having at The Alchemist coffee shop in Wilton Manors with a coworker; we somehow got on the topic of me having done improv in a past life, and she told (lovingly commanded?) me to enroll in classes.

What got you involved and interested in improv?

I started doing improv in college at the University of Florida with Theatre Strike Force in the fall of 2009. I grew up watching Whose Line?, UCB YouTube videos, and sketch shows and figured well, why not?

Tell us about your first improv show ever. What was it like?

It was in the Jennings freshman dorm building at UF, in their common room area with vending machines and gross old couches. The stage was four tables put together, and I skinned my knee (through my jeans) during a particularly intense game of Chain Murder. The three STEM majors who showed up thought that was VERY funny.

What’s your favorite game/form of improv? Why?

La Ronde is my favorite long form piece right now because I absolutely love delving into strong character work and seeing how each player’s deliberate character choices play into one another to make a cohesive world in which these weirdos cohabitate. Also, the Intervention is just a really, really fun structure in which to play.

What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had based on your life in comedy?

I was one of a handful of members of Sick Puppies who volunteered with the teachers and staff of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for an improv workshop, and it was truly the most impactful way I’ve ever used comedy. If I could go back and witness/participate in the power of silliness and vulnerability as a method for healing every day, I would in a minute.

Newer improvisers might be surprised by how much you continue to learn from improv, no matter how long you’ve been doing it. What’s something you recently learned, or that you’re currently working on?

The “game” doesn’t have to be something outlandish or joke-y. Trust the choices of you and your scene partner to find the game organically without feeling obligated to force it when it feels like you don’t have something immediately playable.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to new improvisers?

Be confident in what your brain is telling you. If your brain or feet are moving, listen to them. Trust your instincts, and do your best to stop second-guessing yourself to wonder if what you feel compelled to say is funny or a “good” move. Do the thing!

See Sara, along with The Mighty Few this Saturday at 9:30p at Sick Puppies Comedy! Get tickets now: http://bit.ly/SaraS2018!

Sick Puppies Comedy Cast Q&A with Ryan Lieber!

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So, Ryan, tell us…how did you find out about Sick Puppies Comedy?

Tired of just coming home after work every night and sitting in front of my TV, I was looking for something different that would interest me. I searched improv comedy on the web and found SPC. That was six years ago and I’ve been a part of the troupe ever since.

What got you involved and interested in improv?

Growing up in Chicago, which is considered the mecca of improv, I got to see shows at Second City when I was a kid and always thought it was so funny. I thought it would be fun to do it as an adult and I went for it.

Tell us about your first improv show ever. What was it like?

I remember going to Second City in Chicago for one of their “adult shows” when I was younger. I was so impressed with the talent and how the improvisers were able to think of such funny ideas in a split second. It looked like so much fun.

What’s your favorite game/form of improv? Why?

I’ve always been a sucker for short form. It’s quick, is always good for a laugh, and the audience finds it enjoyable too.

What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had based on your life in comedy?

I just enjoy seeing how much the audience is laughing and taking in the show. When an audience member tells you after the show how much they enjoyed it, it feels great to know I made someone laugh for a hour and was able to take them away from whatever stress or issues they may have going on in their lives.

Newer improvisers might be surprised by how much you continue to learn from improv, no matter how long you’ve been doing it. What’s something you recently learned, or that you’re currently working on?

Improv is kind of like the game of golf. No matter how long you’ve played it or performed it, you’re never going to master it. You can always improve and be better every time you go out there to perform.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to new improvisers?

Be open to everything. Don’t feel ashamed about any ideas you have. Go out there and say whatever you feel for a scene. Improv is about trusting yourself and your fellow players. We’re all here to support your ideas and decisions when you’re on stage.

See Ryan, along with #NoFilter and Daddy’s Little Nest Egg this Saturday at 9p at Sick Puppies Comedy! Get tickets now: http://bit.ly/RyanL2018!

Sick Puppies Comedy Cast Q&A with Nick Henriquez!

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Get to know the one and only, Nick Henriquez in this week’s Cast Member Q&A!

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How did you find out about Sick Puppies Comedy?

I was taking a stand-up class when one of the other students mentioned Sick Puppies, which had just opened. It was too far for him to drive, but he recommended it to me. Shortly after, I joined in with the first class group Sick Puppies ever had.

What got you involved and interested in improv?

I’d watched tons of Whose Line, but it was improvised podcasts that really locked it in for me. I remember discovering them near the end of college and actually burning them onto CDs to listen to in the car. This was before I got an iPhone and the adapter that would broadcast your audio to the radio like a Mr. Microphone. So glad there’s bluetooth now.

Tell us about your first improv show ever. What was it like?

I wish I could remember details. It was a big group of students and we had a lot of fun. We wore matching t-shirts, so that right there tells you I still had a lot to learn.

What’s your favorite game/form of improv? Why?

I enjoy a long-form narrative. I like the humor and creativity involved in creating new situations to move our characters into and the feeling of accomplishment of having told a story.

What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had based on your life in comedy?

I love the sense of community among performers and how approachable everyone is, and I love meeting other performers from around the country and world at festivals. You can meet people with so many varied backgrounds.

Newer improvisers might be surprised by how much you continue to learn from improv, no matter how long you’ve been doing it. What’s something you recently learned, or that you’re currently working on?

I love learning a new form and then seeing all the ways there are to twist it and make it your own. There’s never enough time for all of them! I still have a parallel universes form I came up with that I’ve only been able to scratch the surface on, but I know there’s incredible depths to reach.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to new improvisers?

Besides the basics, find the thing you’re good at (big characters, bringing energy, spotting connections, etc.) and become the master of that realm. Love and enjoy it, find different twists on it, innovate, thrill and surprise everyone. Then start branching out on improving your weaker areas. Don’t try to do everything at once. See the photo of me putting this into practice at a recent DCM (Del Close Marathon), playing the unflappable worker unaffected by the craziness going on around him.

You can catch Nick with SPC’s musical improv team, Shallow Howl this Saturday at 9:00 p.m. at Sick Puppies Comedy in Boca Raton, Florida. Get your tickets online at: http://bit.ly/NickH2018!

Sick Puppies Comedy Cast Q&A with Ben Brouckaert!

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We caught up with Sick Puppies’ very own, Ben Brouckaert in this week’s cast member Q&A. Learn a little bit more about the man, the myth (he’s totally not a myth) and the legend himself!

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How did you find out about Sick Puppies Comedy?

Google, they were the first result for improv classes in the area. SEO works!

What got you involved and interested in improv?

Podcasts. When I was younger, I thought improv was only what you see on Whose Line, and I never found it particularly inspiring. But when I discovered podcasts like Comedy Bang Bang and improv4humans, I learned that there was a whole other kind of improv called long form, and I knew I had to try it.

Tell us about your first improv show ever. What was it like?

It was nerve-wracking and exciting and so much fun. I still remember playing an elderly surgeon who was shorter than the operating table, and watching Chris Wheeler plank on two chairs (it was when planking was still a thing).

What’s your favorite game/form of improv? Why?

Right now, it’s the Harold. I love the challenge of creating several separate worlds and trying to bring them together in some great Seinfeldian way by the end of the show.

What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had based on your life in comedy?

Getting to travel to perform. Improv brought me to New York for the first time in my life, and it was an amazing experience. Also, I’ve been recognized as a Sick Puppies cast member a few times in public; that’s a cool feeling as well. Sitting at the movies and hearing someone say “hey, we were at your show tonight! I told my kids we’re going to sit next to the Sick Puppies” was cool. I now have a security detail who will not allow anyone to talk to me or look me in the eyes.

Newer improvisers might be surprised by how much you continue to learn from improv, no matter how long you’ve been doing it. What’s something you recently learned, or that you’re currently working on?

Just the other night I learned that I’m not totally sure what a trapezoid is. I looked it up, and I would give myself partial credit at best.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to new improvisers?

Listen! The most satisfying scenes I’ve done are the ones where my scene partner and I listen hard to each other’s ideas and we build something together that we never could have built on our own.

You can catch Ben with SPC’s very own, Miniature Giant this Saturday at 9:00 p.m. at Sick Puppies Comedy in Boca Raton, Florida. Get your tickets online at: http://bit.ly/BenB2018!

How Can Everyone Be Right and Wrong About Improv?

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If you are a newer improviser and you’ve had more than one teacher, you have already gone home confused.  Why is it that this teacher said that “Yes and…” is the only rule and this other teacher said that “No” is okay? Who is right?

Improv comedy is an art with a universal goal:  laughter.  Even that statement gets people riled up.  “It’s not about jokes!” I agree with that. It’s not about jokes, but it is about laughter.  You can’t categorize your theater or club as a place for comedy and get upset when your students want to learn how to be funny.

If the goal is laughter, then why are there so many methods to get there?  Shouldn’t there just be one way?  How can two players with opposing views develop a successful scene?

The reason that anyone can improvise with anyone, regardless of background, style or point of view is because it’s all nuance.  Once we agree that improv is about impromptu scene work for laughs, the rest is all minutia.

 

Instructing improv feels a little bit like parenting.  As a Dad, I have these kids and I’m teaching them how to be good people… but from my point of view.  I didn’t grow up with a bunch of money, my parents are still married and even though I grew up going to church, my kids won’t have to.  My life experiences helped define my method of parenting, but it’s obviously not the only way to parent.  My definition of a good person is pretty much the same as anyone else on this planet:

  • Doesn’t kill
  • Doesn’t purposefully hurt others
  • Is kind to others
  • Is respectful of others

That kind of stuff.  If you ask me how to become a good person, my answer may begin to differ from others:

  • Ask others how you can help
  • compliment people
  • look for something likable in everyone you meet

Maybe other people might say

  • go to church
  • volunteer at a homeless shelter
  • keep to yourself

Even though the answers above don’t contradict each other, they seem to be different.  Different enough for you to believe that they might contradict each other.  Asking others how you can help doesn’t contradict “keep to yourself”.  You can be respectful of someone’s privacy, but still offer yourself to them so they know you are available.

In improv, it’s the same.  The nuances seem to be massive differences, but from a 30,000 foot view, improv is just people on stage making it up as they go and developing funny scenes.

I would caution if you hear “the way I teach is the best way” or “that place is bad” or “that style is bad improv”.  The art of improv is constantly changing. Audiences are getting more sophisticated, so the actors are too.  Some markets prefer different types of humor, different formats and different actors.  The most important thing to understand as a new improviser is that you will always be a student of improv no matter how successful you become.  Your style of improv or the way you look at the craft needs to serve you and you alone.  If you are proud of the work you are doing, then keep doing it.  If you are struggling, listen to what others are doing.

At Sick Puppies Comedy, we believe that you can never go wrong if you have a strong emotional connection to your scene partner.  If you are willing to invest an enormous amount of energy into the person on stage with you, you will rarely fail.  Check in with your partner, listen to what they are saying, react to what they are doing and care more than you should.  Of course, that’s just us.