Thursday, June 19, 2008

Great American Comedy Festival - Youth Camp - Day 4

We must be getting close to the end of the week.

I say that for two reasons. First, the students are up late memorizing lines for the four sketches they will present at Saturday's Youth Showcase. Second, I'm tired.

No, really, I'm tired. Even though I watch the sessions and handle any situation that occurs throughout the day, I can feel my energy slowing a bit. I think the kids are starting to see the end, too, and they are pumped for Saturday's opportunity to perform.

Standup class began with a discussion about last night's semi-final session we attended. The instructor asked what we liked about the comics and what didn't work with their performances for us, also. Very interesting discussion ensued about joke structure and if it is best to get right to the first laugh or if spending time riffing with the audience draws the audience into the bit. Students practiced a short riff, followed by some of their routine, and then returned to riffing. This type of setup is called hammocking. The students seemed to master it in no time.

During improv, the students worked on the group mind activities they will be presenting on Saturday. Four types of improv will be presented. The first improv is titled "bus". One student will drive the bus and as each person boards the bus at a new stop, he or she will assume a certain type of character. Everyone on the bus will assume those characteristics. Once all students are aboard, they will exit the bus, and the improv will continue until the drive is once again, the only person left.

Next, students will perform a game of freeze tag. Now, this isn't the type of elementary playground game you grew up with. Instead, two people enter the stage, walk around, and when someone yells freeze, they do as told, look at the pose they both have assumed, and begin a scene. At some point during their scene, "freeze" will be heard and someone will tag one of the players and assume that position and start a new scene.

The directed story - which I discussed earlier - will be the third type of group mind activity that the students will demonstrate. Oh, so much fun! This is a good activity to show off a person's creativity level.

The final improv activity is titled "Dear Diary." Even though the students are together in a group, each student jumps in and pens a diary entry for the person or object suggested.

And now, on to sketch comedy/sketch writing. Students blocked the scenes and discovered that some of them need to memorize their lines . . . by tomorrow's dress rehearsal. Overall, they did a good job with the scripts. Only a little bit of improv on some of the lines!! :)

Tonight, we watched both sessions of semi-final competition. Wow! There were some spectacular routines. The first group featured Joe Klocek, Erin Jackson, Shane Mauss, Jamie Lissow, Dan Boulger, and another comic who took the place for someone who was unable to be here. In fact, I think he actually flew in to Omaha today and performed tonight. The top two advancing from this session were Erin Jackson and Shane Mauss.

At 8:00, we watched Darryl Lenox, Deacon Gray, Paul Varghese, Myq Kaplan, Marianne Sierk, and Joe DeRosa. Each one of them had energetic shows, with Marianne Sierk and Deacon Gray advancing to tomorrow's final round of competition.

I find it interesting that both women in the competition advanced, especially after being told earlier this week that women in comedy usually don't do well in competition because there are more men than women who perform the standup bit. But I think both women in this competition have their own style that they bring to the stage and it works! So congratulations to all the comedians who will joke around tomorrow for a grand prize of $5,000.

With that said, I see there are five minutes left until the stroke of midnight, commencing the beginning of Day 5 of Youth Comedy Camp at the Great American Comedy Festival. And, since I'm close to falling asleep at the keyboard, I bid everyone adieu.

Until tomorrow! Keep joking....

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