MASTER IMPROVISER JACOB BANIGAN ON HOW IMPROV CAN TEACH WRITERS TO EXPAND THEIR GAME A THOUSAND-FOLD (MF GALAXY 123) – 2017 May 22
INTERNATIONAL IMPROV ARTIST + TRAINER CREATES + CRITIQUE HUNDREDS OF STORIES PER YEAR; THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO KNOW ABOUT MAKING AUDIENCE CARE; HOW IMPROV REACHES PAST FUNNY TO FIND PROFOUND MEANING
Jacob Banigan is one impressive cat. He knows more about how to build and refine stories than anyone I’ve ever met, and I know a lot of writers. And yet Banigan doesn’t see himself as a writer and writes only occasionally.
So how and why does he grok story like no one else? Because he’s a master improviser who’s been studying the craft since 1990 when he joined Rapid Fire Theatre in Edmonton. Sure, he also gained skills in years of creating and performing sketch comedy, including in The 11:02 Show which is where we worked together for a season, and in Gordon’s Big Bald Head, where I also worked with him one summer.
But Banigan kept growing in the field, serving as Rapid Fire’s Artistic Director from 1995 to 2004, creating news plays, launching improv festivals Nosebowl and the long-form improv show CHiMPROV, and helped make Rapid Fire’s reputation go international by winning competition after competition. Now he lives in Austria where he works with Theater Im Bahnhof of Graz and English Lovers of Vienna, and he wanders the planet like David Banner, performing and teaching improv wherever people need him.
In today’s episode of MF GALAXY, Jacob Banigan discusses:
- What the fundamental core of improv has to teach writers and all story-tellers
- Why improvisers should never focus on “being funny”
- The most important thing to know about how to get your audience to care about your characters and plot
- Why it’s absolutely indispensable to screw up and even fail at your art, and when you should disrupt a system that’s working
- How to harness randomness to improve your creativity
- How falling in love with your process can cost you the quality of your product
- How he runs the best critique sessions I’ve ever seen—which is why I’ve asked him to advise me on two screenplays—and how to learn his method, and
- How to know if you can trust your fellow creators.
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