improv

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!

IMG_2899 - Nick Henriquez

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!

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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!

5EA1A274-4D88-44CA-B5E7-530CB2947B01 - Ben Brouckaert

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.

Look At All of Our New Players!

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Sick Puppies Comedy has been busy adding new teams, new players, new formats and new shows!  Take a look at our newest players and the teams they play on!  We couldn’t be more proud of the group of players we have.  Come see a show soon!

 

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Tonight Is John Duffy’s Last Show With Sick Puppies Comedy

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John Duffy 2013: Loud, brash, crazy, clownish, quasi-insane student.

John Duffy 2017: Pillar of Sick Puppies Comedy, One of my very best friends, incredibly talented actor, invaluable instructor and relentless improviser who is also loud, brash, crazy, clownish and a full insane person.

John
John Duffy

He became an official cast member in January of 2015, but was part of our DNA well before as a student and consultant.  John had gotten his masters degree and asked if he could build a business plan for Sick Puppies Comedy in 2014.  Of course, I said yes, but didn’t think much of it until he presented it to me.

That summer, John was part of a sales team I had assembled in hopes of attracting new business, new audience, new students and new venues.  Overall, the project failed because I couldn’t coach it or manage it, but it inspired John.  He started to ask “what if?” What if this succeeded?  What if we grew bigger?  What if we could get more?  He was this voice in my head that said “We can do more.”

Within a few months I quit my job because I believed him.  He was right.  We added him to the cast and he quickly became one of my favorite people to be on stage with.  Some nights, he had an endless amount of energy and your job as a scene partner was to let him shine.  Other nights, he provoked your inner demons to visit a show.  He saw you for exactly who you were and who you are and never held back when he needed to say something.

There was a scene I was in with Julie Cotton and John that I will never forget.  It was what I believe improv perfection to be.  Completely lost in character, lost in scene and lost in joy.  I wanted to live in that 15 minutes forever.  None of us were able to hold ourselves together and I can remember each moment of that night line by line.

John created our house team “Daddy’s Little Nest Egg” that has been to a number of major festivals and is a regular monthly show at Sick Puppies.  He was a visionary for it.

He was easily one of the student favorites when it came to teaching. He even started his own series of classes in Fort Lauderdale and many of them are fans that only come to see shows when he is in them.  John knows how to inspire you and make you feel special.

John and I have worked on so many side projects and ideas together over the years.  SPC news, auditions, podcasts, marketing ideas… John built an entire commercial for Sick Puppies Comedy just three months ago.  He is selfless.  He’s too generous.

Then John found a new love.  Film.  And it took him away.  I knew before he did that his time as an improviser was limited.  When he called me two weeks ago, I already knew and I was so happy to hear him declare exactly what he wants and how he wants to get it.

Improv is an art form that very few of us are fortunate enough to “live” in.  It seems as though it is a transitional time in most people’s lives that helps them find their voice, their point of view, their value and their strengths so that they can grab onto the next thing confidently.

I am so grateful for John and what he has done to build up this company and community and will miss seeing him every week at practice and shows.  We will continue to work together on other projects and hopefully share the big screen together some day.

Please join us tonight at 9PM and purchase your tickets in advance to see John’s last show with us.

We love you John John Duffy – www.johnjohnduffy.com

Casey