Friday, December 9, 2016

Improv Tip: How Do I Know If I Had A Good Show?

In this installment, Nelson provides his philosophy on how to determine if he had a good show or not.

For more, visit his website at

Monday, December 5, 2016

When Not Being On the Bandwagon Helps You Out

Ever since around the 7th/8th grade, I began an attitude of exerting my individuality.  My whole life until then, all I really wanted was to blend in and be accepted just like everyone else.  Now, I want to be accepted as the individual I am.  As a part of exerting my individuality, one of the things I do a lot is try to avoid hype wherever possible.  I automatically want to hate whatever is currently popular or the "in" thing to sport or do.

For example, Pulp Fiction came out in 1994.  When it came out, EVERYBODY was recreating pivotal scenes from the movie or talking about how bad ass Samuel Jackson was in the movie or how Quentin Tarintino was a gift from the filmaking gawds and how revolutionary his movies were.  Hearing all of that, I automatically knew I was going to hate this movie - not because it in itself was a bad movie - but rather because I wanted to be different from everybody else and that meant espousing the opposite opinion on everything.  In order to avoid all of that, I decided to just not see the movie until I felt I could judge the movie on its own merits.  It took me 21 years later to finally watch it.  Yeah, it was a good movie after all.

I'm currently doing the same thing with Hamilton.  I've purposely avoided listening to the soundtrack, mixtape, or going to the theatre to see it (however, I almost auditioned for it during their last cattle call...hey, it's a paid gig!).  It sounds absolutely awesome and very much in the vein of the two things I like - hip-hop and theatre.  However, with the circles I keep, I've had to endure countless Hamilton references, social media rants and raves, people acting out scenes from the show, and folks telling me that it will change my life to see it.  All of those things engaged my avoid-at-all-costs mechanism and thus I've been ignorantly living in a Hamilton-free bubble for the last year or so.

I decided to audition for a show based off Hamilton recently.  I figured that since it was by a local improv company known for fantastic improvised long-form musicals, I would have a decent shot at maybe throwing down with them (many of whom I've worked/studied with).  So, I went up the city to check out this audition to see what I could do.

While waiting in the lobby, I listened to people talking about Hamilton with the same reverence and enthusiasm as I was accustomed to.  Once they were all done, I mentioned, "I haven't seen it yet nor have I listened to the soundtrack."  As soon as I said that, I felt like I got written off by those folks - not in necessarily a conscious way - but rather in a "Dude, why are you even auditioning for this?" kind of way.  We went in and I hoped for the best :)

I ended up having one of the best auditions I've had in a while.  We did a lot of things I ws already exposed to or that my skills let me answer the call for.  My favorite part came when the director asked "Who has seen or listened to Hamilton?"  I was the only person auditioning who wasn't raising their hand.  The director took a look at me and said, "Don't worry. You'll get it" and proceeded to describe what he was looking for.  He was right. I totally got it.

It's cool to get recognized for skill even when you weren't necessarily on the wagon with everyone else.