In my previous class of musical improv, song structure and format was extremely important. Listening to your fellow improvisers in a group and in a two-person scene into a song was the key to making the song successful. From environmental details, to picking up on key words and phrases a person says, everything was important. The same goes for Longform improv. Developed by Del Close of Second City and ImprovOlympic fame, he created a structure known as the Harold which was first performed in 1967. Since then, companies such as the Groundlings in L.A., Upright Citizen’s Brigade, and the PIT have used the Harold in Longform improv. Typically, there are two categories of improvisation: Shortform (think Whose Line Is It Anyways?) and Longform (The Harold).
After taking musical improv, I knew to expect a certain structure for the Harold. I even studied various notes on the format before starting Longform due to its complexities (click on the picture above to find out about the format.) Last night was our first class for Level 3 in which we study Longform, particularly, the Harold. We did various Harolds, and I really noticed the amount of listening it takes to make each element successful. A good memory is also useful. I credit learning song structures in musical improv for not completely freaking out about following The Harold’s format. I find it challenging in a different way, and I am excited to see what more I can learn.