Oh, Hey #Harold, Nice to Meet You: #LongformImprov. #Improv #comedy @thepitnyc

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The Harold, developed by Del Close

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.

#Starstruck: Brief Encounters and #Encouragement from #DebraWinger

A customer came up to me at my survival job, she was buying Entertainment Weekly with Michael Keaton on the cover. His new movie Birdman is coming out and getting a lot of buzz for him. Sometimes, when a cover intrigues me, I might blurt out a comment. I did.

“Oh wow, Michael Keaton. What’s he been up to? Haven’t heard that name in a while.”

“He has a new movie coming out. How do you know about Michael Keaton? You seem really young to know that name.”

“Haha. I guess. I’m an actor, I do my research. Plus, he scared the crap outta me in Beetlejuice when I was 4.”

“You do comedy, right? Stand-up and acting? I think we talked about this before. How’s that going?”

“Um, good. Thank You.”

“I think it’s really great that you’re pursuing it. You’re funny.”

“Thank you so much.”

And with that, the woman took off her sunglasses, and asked me, “What’s your name?”

“I’m Stephanie Gould. Nice to meet you.”

She extended her hand, and said, “So nice to meet you. I’m Debra Winger.”

“Um, THE Debra Winger?” I asked.

“Well, there’s no ‘THE’ on my driver’s license, but yes,” she said with a laugh.

“Oh my goodness”

Now, at this point, I was blushing, but I kept my cool I think. I mean, it’s DEBRA WINGER…from Terms of Endearment for cryin’ out loud. But, as we continued talking, she asked me how things were really going with my career, and what I was up to next. I told her I’m studying improv, and auditioning a lot. She  told me that she’d be on the lookout for me and that she’d make sure to come by and say, “Hello” to me at my day job. She told me to keep going, and not give up. She told me that the butterflies in your stomach at an audition or performance never really go away. She was a bright spot in my day, encouraging and kind, and I am grateful that I had yet another meeting with a truly talented individual whom I have admired as a performer for years. So Debra Winger, if you are reading this, Thank You. I think our meeting was the universe’s way of saying that things will work out.

As a side note: A friend of mine were at an event a while back, she had a great piece of advise for me. She said, “Don’t get starstruck, they [celebrities] are artists and we’re artists. We do what they do. and they do what we do. Act.”

Why Joan Rivers and Her Comedy Matter #RIPJoanRivers (1933-2014)

A lot of people know Joan Rivers as a commentator on the red carpet– a member of the “fashion police.” However, Ms. Rivers was more than just a woman who handed out compliments or witty remarks about a star’s outfit. She, like the late Phyllis Diller, was a pioneer for female stand-up comedians. She appeared on The Tonight Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, and many many more throughout her long career. She became one of the first female hosts of a late night program when she stepped in for Johnny Carson as a guest host. She was a writer, and lent her voice to The Electric Company, and eventually went on to host several of her own shows. She was amazing. Rest in Peace, Joan. Hope you’re having a good laugh with Johnny Carson and Ed Sullivan. You are an inspiration to all of us female comics out there.