Notes: Paul Grondy Workshop

Paul Grondy

Last Saturday (March 30), I left Ric Walker's workshop and high-tailed it to Paul Grondy's. I have been a huge fan of Paul's ever since I heard Kevin Mullaney talk to him about Harold on the IRC podcast.

Some great quotes from Paul:

  • There is nothing funnier than the committed portrayal of someone else
  • You don't make comedy, the audience does.
  • Taking the comedy out allows us to slow down, take more time between line and response, and give yourself time to consider.
  • I don't want to be inspired by my own brain.
  • Just do acting work up front. You risk a boring scene but it leaves you room to trust in the comedy happening.
  • If you match someone's crazy, it's ok but realize you are doing a shorter scene. Otherwise, give the crazy focus and fuel it.

Paul’s priorities in an improv scene:

  1. Be somebody -- play that person realistically and authentically, and the audience will listen to your dialog in context of that character
  2. His scene partner -- helping build his or her idea
  3. Kick-ass object work
  4. A good location
  5. Then, saying some funny stuff

We played two versions of an exercise called "yes because." The first was about making a completely ridiculous offer into an honest and believable reality. The second was about taking a mundane offer and playing it honestly, resisting the temptation to take it to crazy town. They were very different but both really fascinating.

We finished the workshop with an Armando where the goal was to play normal people behaving normally. We were told that nothing was to happen in these scenes. I found it very hard to resist that built-in urge to heighten and play hard. But it was wonderful! The lesson (as I understand it) was not that one should never heighten but that these instincts can easily push us over the line into creating comedy or (dare I say it) trying to be funny. It was interesting how hard it was to play normal people behaving normally.

Posted with permission from Paul Grondy.