Aug 282014

Robin Williams - Denver Improv ComedyThe death of Robin Williams is one that touches every one, no matter if you work in comedy/improv as a career or whether just as a spectator. And there was no one on the planet who exemplified what’s possible in comedy improvisation than Williams. Anyone who was lucky enough to see him perform live was reminded how much of an endless stream of ideas he had that never wavered in creativity or comedic energy.

Those who do comedy and improv here in Denver at Voodoo Comedy Playhouse have all been affected by Williams’ death, giving us pause whether we’ll really see anyone like him again in inspiring improv artists. While it may give a complex portrait of how much a price those high-level comedians pay for bringing joy to others and not themselves, Williams at least gave hints to what makes for a successful improv artist.

Despite a lot of comedic talent out there and here in Denver, it seems evident we won’t see another titanic comedic talent like Williams. Regardless, what can Robin Williams’ talent do to inspire you if you’ve considered going into comedy improv? What were some of his personal secrets that helped him be able to tap into his bottomless well of comedic ideas and absurdities?

Classical Training and Retaining Imagination

We all know that Robin Williams studied acting at Julliard in his early days, which helped him considerably be able to give a more intellectual edge to his improv ability. When it comes to improv, having a huge knowledge base of classical training can help a lot in tapping into literary or pop culture references on a dime. Thanks to Williams studying Shakespeare and other classics, he could use much of that for source material and bring a more cerebral edge to his comedy while integrating it with more worldly situations.

That was one secret to Williams’ improv ability, though it was far from all of it. When Newsweek recently reprinted an interview with Williams from 1986, you could see a lot of revelations about his comedy inspiration that are quite telling in hindsight. The fact that Williams didn’t even fully comprehend the comedic reservoir he had, it shows the greatest creative artists don’t always psychoanalyze what drives them.

Even though Williams didn’t seem to understand himself, it’s made clear in the interview he regarded performing on stage as playtime. You don’t find many comedic performers who love performing so much that it’s considered almost vacation or a trip back into one’s childhood imagination.

Williams admitted to regressing into his imagination a lot as a child while spending time alone. His retaining of that imagination for improv playtime helped him tap a part of the brain many adults lose as they grow up. Whether this is the ultimate secret to successful comedy improvisation is up for debate, though it has to help in being able to have a constant stream of material to turn to.

All of us here at Voodoo Comedy Playhouse in Denver will continue to be inspired by Robin Williams for the rest of our lives. We can only hope to discover a comedian with Williams’ talent, yet we know how rare it’s going to be to find someone who had the same perfect alignment of skills. Nevertheless, you’re still going to see considerably brilliant improv talent here that will make you laugh heartily.

Contact us for showtimes of when our next stand-up and improv comedians perform. Also, consider taking one of our improv classes to help nurture that “playtime” Robin Williams adhered to. Consciously applying a little playtime to your own real life may be the best legacy Robin Williams could give to the world.

    Aug 212014

    Outside By My Fence Right NowDid you know you can participate in comedy improv here in Denver through our Voodoo Comedy Playhouse? While you can excuse us calling it a “cage match”, we can at least assure you there won’t be any physical wrestling. Then again, we can’t guarantee it either considering comedy improvisation sometimes gets physical. But while some professional wrestling could be considered improv on its own (sorry to break the news to those who thought it was real), it’s always a fun experience to see people attempt to best our professional improv performers.

    We called this “The Duel: An Improv Cagematch”, and it’s held every Saturday here at our Denver location at 10 p.m. Yes, being late-night, you can expect it to be very adult and a time when you shouldn’t bring the kids. However, you’re going to have more fun than you’ve perhaps ever had showing off your natural improv skills.

    While we’d love to see you do improv on your own, we know that only a special few can do an improv show on their own and hold an audience in stitches. Here, it’s going to be improv groups, which is technically more challenging than doing it alone. In this scenario, you have to feed off your fellow group members and keep a momentum going when inventing on the spot.

    The cage match aspect comes in one group competing against another group. Winners are decided on audience reaction and based on their affirmed vote. Whichever team wins will then come back and defend their title the following Saturday, so you might be able to perform for more than just one week.

    Do you think you have the proper improv chops to work well in a group and win over a Denver audience? Here’s some suggestions on how to tap into your natural ability.

    The Art of Improv

    We adhere to the old improv method of saying “Yes, and…”, which means taking any challenge an audience gives you rather than blocking any possibility of being creative. When you open your imagination to our Denver audience suggestions, you’ll be amazed at what your subconscious produces, especially when feeding off other people. Group improv is good for beginners because you all work together to create one giant mind. No matter if that mind gets dirty at times, we expect such things in a late-night Denver improv show.

    This isn’t to say you shouldn’t be as clever as you can. While we’re not against four-letter words in comedy, knowing how to create brilliant comedy without resorting to mentioning a toilet or sex will be to your benefit.

    It’s also a good idea to give equal time in group improvisation. We understand if you’re hungry for stage attention, though make sure your group effort allows others to shine and not just yourself.

    With all that in mind, we invite you to our next improv cage match the next time you’re in Denver and stop by Voodoo Comedy Playhouse on a Saturday night. If you’ve never attended this weekly event, we also want you to watch from the audience to get inspired in perhaps doing improv on your own eventually. We find that when you watch others perform improv, you learn a lot, if perhaps having your jaw to floor looking at the abilities of the true professionals.

    Contact us if you have any questions or comments about our show. Also check out our other shows during the week with brilliant standup comedians and improv artists from the Denver area. We additionally suggest our improv courses, even if we know going into the cage match without preparation can give you as much exhilaration as running with the bulls in Pamplona (without the sharp edges).

      Aug 072014
      Denver Comedy Improvisation Lessons: The Advent of Actors Using Improv on TV Shows

      When you take improvisation lessons here in Denver, you’re not only giving yourself more confidence, you could also help nurture an acting career if you’re working toward one. Here at the Voodoo Comedy Playhouse, we hold regular improvisation classes in our Denver headquarters that help people from all walks of life. But we’re starting to … (read more)

      Jul 312014
      Denver Standup Comedy: Are Musical Comedians Still Funny?

      Standup comedy is something that’s still a subjective art, and we still feature some comedians here in Denver who take some serious risks in doing something different. Most of them succeed, and it’s the musical comedians who frequently are the most daring. Ever since Vaudeville, the musical comedian who plays a piano, guitar, (or banjo) … (read more)

      Jul 172014
      Denver Improvisation: Let Us Turn Your Corporate Group into the Subject of an Improvised Musical

      If you’ve been looking for a comedy improvisation fix in Denver, Colorado, you might want to try something a little different here at Voodoo Comedy Playhouse. Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if it was set as the plot of a musical? What about your entire corporate staff and all of … (read more)

      Jul 102014
      Does Legalized Marijuana Make The Denver Standup Comedy Scene More Popular?

      Denver has always been a haven for standup comedy.  Even when standup comedy took a dip in popularity in the 90s and early 2000s, Denver’s standup comedy scene was still alive and kicking. Many local standup comedians perform as opening acts for touring headliners, and standup comedy open mics have popped up all over Colorado … (read more)

      Jul 032014
      Denver Improv: Should We Be Applying Improvisation in Our Everyday Lives?

      In Denver, improv can be seen everywhere, at least in those who perhaps took one of our improvisation courses here at Voodoo Comedy Playhouse. It seems we keep seeing more and more people wanting to learn the art of comedy improv to help them in general parts of life rather than becoming seasoned performers. We’ve … (read more)