Friday, April 15, 2011

City Newspaper's Cultural Crawl: FREE IMPROV AFTERNOON

If you are any where near Rochester, this is where you want to be on Saturday. As part of Rochester's CIty Newspaper's Cultural Crawl, there will be an afternoon of free improv at the Little Theatre. Improv and the Little are like two awesome tastes that are completely mind blowing together.

On the slate for the afternoon, from 2:00 - 5:30.

And the Little will be selling $2 bags of popcorn. AND the event is free! Like I said when I heard about it: holy crap.

Check the Facebook event here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Thumbs UP Profile - UB Improv's Miscellaneous Imports

Oh, profiles, I wish I could quit you. UBImprov's Miscellaneous Imports is making the trek east to RIT's Improvamonium this Friday.  We at Thumbs UP thought this earned them the Thumbs UP Profile treatment.  I reached out to Chris Salmin, incoming President of UB Improv, for answers to the following pressing questions.

1) Do you do short form or long form improv? Do you have any favorite forms or games?

The Miscellaneous Imports do both long and short from improv. We prefer a long form we’ve dubbed Montage. Basically, it is a series of unrelated scenes based on a single prompt (which ideally it returns to at the end) that usually involves sweeps, edits, tap outs, etc. It is usually played at the end of the show, after a series of short form games, so that we can incorporate as many call backs as possible. We like plenty of short form as well.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

RIT Improv - Improvamonium 3

It only happens once a year. Improvamonium descends upon the campus of Rochester Institute of Technology and the world trembles.  RIT Improv's major performance is an extended three hour block of what I can only imagine is a melange of Improv and Pandamonium (otherwise I can't figure out where the "a" comes from).

What's Next?

Thumbs UPstate Improv has no intention of going gently in to hibernation, following what we shall officially refer to as "an unmitigated success" of an inaugural festival. We will continue to be a central repository for collaboration between upstate improv groups, venues and potential audience.

You may have noticed on the blog that an events calendar has replaced the festival info block. To add an item to the events calendar, just email with the subject line upstateimprovevent in the subject. Include date, time, place, and descriptions including what groups are performing. The calendar will display the next ten upcoming events. If we happen to see events in our travels, we will add them, but the only way to be sure is to email us.

If you have a special event that involves multiple teams, or you're trying something new, or you're offering workshops, let us know that as well.  We'll link to your site, post it on the blog, share it on facebook.

In improv, the other members of your team all put in effort to make you look good, and the entire team benefits. The same principle applies here. If we all put in the effort to form a community, we all benefit.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Thumbs UP Profile - Vibrant But Deadly

You thought these were done? You were wrong! They were almost done. Meet Geneseo's long form group Vibrant but Deadly.

Q: Your group description on our little info sheet says you haven't been around long. How long have you been around? And why did you get together?
Vibrant But Deadly has existed since last semester.  We formed the group after we realized that Geneseo didn’t have a football team. For real though, we just wanted a chance to do more improv with each other, and also to branch out into long form.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Saturday, April 9 Recap

Less than a day removed from Saturday and events have already become somewhat blurry, so apologies for vagueness in recaps. Workshops began promptly 15 or so minutes after scheduled as bleary eyed improvisers and instructors stumbled in to the theater and ate bagels with a voraciousness typically associated with animals on the Serengeti. Lou Leonardo, Ken Keech and the fine, fine people at Geva Comedy Improv led some enthusiastic if fatigued improvisers through the finer details of short form, long form and establishing a group mind.  Kudos to all.

The Special Thanks Post

A recap for Saturday night will be up tomorrow morning, but first, the thanks (the the sleep):

Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday, April 8 Recap

In my wildest flight of optimistic fancy, I never anticipated tonight going quite so well.  A packed house, fantastic improv, great people, very little in the way of technical errors... it was beautiful.

A not quite on time arriving pizza and a certain Thumbs UPstate Co-Director's phone blaring "Final Countdown" could not slow down Satan's Closet. The Village Idiots arrived from Rochester mere minutes before their killer set. Geneseo's Vibrant but Deadly displayed some excellent team work and group mind in their long form set, and RIT Improv brought some incredible ingenuity and original games with their short form set. Kathy's Fur Coat had their very first public performance in front of a veteran crop of improvisers, and the Pappy Parker Players demonstrated astounding polish and charisma.

The penultimate (yeah, it's 2:10 and I'm going with penultimate) set was my favorite though. Representatives from many of the participating teams played 30 scenes in 30 minutes. For the most part complete strangers, using a variety of techniques, helping each other, contributing to scenes, in many cases groping one another... it was everything improv should be. It was the rainbow mustache. The instructor's show followed and the action got violent and expansive and multi-level and meta and yours truly started to fade a little and it was glorious.

Many thanks to all who attended, participated, and volunteered. It was fun. Let's do it again tomorrow.

Attendees with photos and video... send them to We'll post them and stuff.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thumbs UP Profile - Satan's Closet

Listen... it's Thursday, April 7. Ken Keech of Satan's Closet and I are co-directors of the festival and we didn't have time for an email interview so we did it over the phone while I folded programs and munched on pretzel chips and Ken prepared his wardrobe for tomorrow. This is a transcript of what I remember thinking while Ken was talking.

Q: Where'd Satan's Closet come from?
Amalgamation two groups. Lazlo's Closet Satan's Lemonade. Worst parts of each, kind of awesome.

Q: Why Satan's Closet different?
We did Mallprov, inspiration from stores and scenery in Shoppingtown Mall. Hurricane Simulator. Mechanical car ride. Gentleman murderers. Potted plants.

Thumbs UPstate In the News

With the festival (oh man) 24 hours away, the press is taking notice.

The Post Standard is a little slow on the "online" gun so I went and scanned the article that ran today.

Click for larger view

The Eagle wrote up a great follow up piece on the first Salt City DISHES and the Festival was featured prominently, including a still from the wonderful teaser video on the cover.  Check it here.

This is happening folks. Thumbs up.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Thumbs UP Profile - Search Engine Improv

Without knowing any thing about Rochester's Search Engine Improv, I imagine them to be the people that come up with funny endings for Google autocomplete searches (I recommend "Is it wrong to").

Q: How long have you been performing? Individually? As a team? In aggregate?
  • Law: 16 years
  • Cal: 11 years
  • John: 10 years
  • As a team: Just over a year (John joined us this past fall)
  • In aggregate: 16 + 11 + 10 = 37 (Did you ask us this because you can’t do addition?) (Intern's note: Jerks, now the world knows my secret shame.)
Q: I see you've developed some original forms. Can you tell us about them or are they secret?
A: They are secret. We will tell you. Then we will kill you. Our first creation was the improvised sitcom Paul & Vinny Automotive, which we like because it appeals to both hardcore improvisors and Cal’s grandmother. The other forms came out of our love for longform and the Harold, which Del Close insisted that people keep messing with. So we’re messing with it. Continually. And forms keep popping up as a result. Thus far we’ve performed GoogleProv, Tapout, Lazy Susan, and MONSSSSTROCITY. More info on all of these is on our shows page:

Monday, April 4, 2011

Oh Man!

The festival is only a few days away! Who's excited? We definitely are and are looking forward to meeting all the groups coming in from Upstate New York. Here's a little video thing.