I recently wrapped up my first class at UCB with my class performance on August 16. This a review of the Upright Citizens Brigade’s Improv 101 class.
UCB’s Improv 101 class is a great introduction into the world of improv. It provides an end-to-end look at the key skills it takes to be a strong improviser. I recommend the course for anyone interested in gaining a basic understanding of improv, whether it’s to improve your comedic timing, enhance your performing abilities, or just to have fun.
Students will learn the fundamentals of long-form improvisation. Core concepts covered include using character agreement to make your scenes succeed, developing character, character status, object and environment work, “playing at the top of your intelligence,” and heightening (finding ways to make your scenes get funnier from start to finish).
Review of the Class
UCB’s Improv 101 is their introductory class to long-form improv. The 101 level focuses on the basics of improv and has two elements I really like: a class show at the end of the course, and a syllabus that covers all of the basics, including game. Some introductory courses pick only one thing, such as characters or “yes and,” and only teach that. While UCB definitely focuses more on “yes and” in 101, they introduce many other elements–backline support, 2nd beats, game, characters, status, object work, etc. It should be noted that some of the more advanced teachings could have been because of our instructor, or the level of our class. Also I have prior improv experience, so I can’t speak directly to how the class is for a new improviser, but from others have told me, they too enjoyed the class.
Review of the Instructor
The class as a whole was fairly structured. The UCB Training Center opened in 2006 and has refined their courses over that time, having specific objectives for each level. With that being said, the instructor does play a big role in your experience in the course. I was fortunate enough to have Bobby Moynihan before he made the leap to Saturday Night Live. Bobby was a great 101 teacher; he understood the basics of improv and was always very positive towards what people did correctly (an important focus for people’s first introduction to improv). Bobby also adapted the content of the course to the level of the people in our class, allowing us to get into some more advanced topics.
Top 5 Notes
There were a number of things that I learned from the course, but here are the Top 5 notes, quotes, and suggestions:
- Play to the top of your intelligence.
- Listen for that first unusual thing.
- If this is true, then what else it true.
- Don’t be “coy” – be specific.
- Buy the The Upright Citizens Brigade: Asssscat! DVD and watch the audio commentary.