The Syracuse Improv Collective’s mission is to create a fun and happy place for comedic performances in Syracuse. They exist in order to promote improv troupes in and around Syracuse, NY. The SIC holds monthly variety shows, conducts educational workshops, engage in special appearances and stunts, and are the driving force behind the Thumbs UPstate Improv Festival. We blow minds.


A Time For Laughter and A Time For LOLz

We’ve been busy little bees, and we have some exciting news for all 3 of you who don’t follow us on Facebook. (Hi, Dan!) Without further ado:

#1 – 2017 Class Registration is Now Open! 

Last year saw a great bunch of new students join the Collective, perhaps the best ever. We are so happy to play with and teach all these fun, talented people from Syracuse and beyond! (Say Hi to Aaron from Fort Drum! (Hi, Aaron!)). This year two of our teachers are brand new to the SIC and bring a treasure trove of experience from out-of-town. LOVE IT.

Classes really do fill up quickly now, so please register if you would like to come have fun learning with us!

#2 – December 18 – “Your Story’s Not Safe With Us!”

We are THRILLED to be collaborating with our new best friends at Salt City Story Slam in a joint show. Three improv teams will perform sets inspired by three prepared stories. The featured teams are: HEAVY METAL HEAT WAVE, SATAN’S CLOSET, and the debut of the SIC’s very first, as-yet-unnamed, all-women’s team!

7PM @ Jazz Central, $5

your-story-not-safe

#3 – December 10 – Class with Philip Markle & Graduation Show!

During the day, sixteen Collectivists will be learning from improv teacher extraordinaire Philip Markle. We will report back to you soon on our experience with Philip’s ‘Burn Your Fear’ workshop. Additionally, students from the class will perform in a show that night…which more importantly features our Level 3 graduates!

The show will be held in the auditorium on the first floor of the Nancy Cantor Warehouse, 350 W Fayette St, at 8 PM. These students have worked hard to bring you all the laughter and LOLz. Please come root them on! Admission is free.

That’s all for now!

Keep your eyes open for incoming news about 2017 drop-in classes, as well as more editorial-style posts for this site.

WE LOVE YOU, SYRACUSE.

Suicide: If You Have Any Questions, Please Raise Your Hand


2014:

the year Robin Williams died. All across news networks, suicide became front & center. Opinions kept silent were now out in the open. “What a tragedy!” “How sad!” “What a coward!” Mental health experts were being asked by media outlets for insight. How could someone who brought joy to so many be that depressed? Over time, it’s been said that Robin’s diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia—a degenerative brain disease—played a crucial part in his suicide. Regardless, people were holding an open discussion about psychological diagnoses and treatment on the news, blogs, Facebook, and at work.

2002:
the year my brother died. I was the youngest of 3 brothers: Michael, Jonathan, and Stephen. My brother Michael had been struggling with bipolar disorder for quite some time, experiencing powerful highs and despairing lows. Finding the right medication and dosage was always a difficult transition. At the age of 22, he ended his own life. I remember running into an old friend from High School. I asked, “How’ve you been, Tim?” “Oh well. I got a new job, married my high school sweetheart, and had a kid. And, you,” he asked. “I dropped out of college and my brother died,” I said…silence. Many conversations would end this way. The topic of family would arise. I went from saying “I have 2 brothers” to “had 2 brothers” to “I have a brother.” My conclusion: change the subject and never have these conversations again.

AFSP

2014:
the year I decided to walk. 2 years prior, I was punched in the gut once again. My cousin Matthew committed suicide. Michael was best man at his wedding. He was a 3rd brother in the family. After 10 years of inaction, I needed to do something. I first heard about the Out of the Darkness Walks while attending college. It’s a walk to raise money for the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (AFSP), an organization that supports research, educates the public, advocates for government legislation, and offers programs and resources for people at risk and survivors of suicide coping with the loss. After finding the local AFSP of Central NY, I called my friend Mike Intaglietta about the possibility of joining the CNY walk. Mike and I are both part of the same improv organization, the Syracuse Improv Collective (SIC), and we came to the conclusion: let’s make the next show a fundraiser.

Our first AFSP Charity Show

While I feared another set of uncomfortable conversations heading my direction, this was not the case with the Syracuse Improv Collective. There are many in the community whose lives have been affected by suicide or depression, who’ve lost brothers, sisters, friends, family, or considered suicide themselves. I’m constantly amazed at the support and even enthusiasm for helping such a cause. In the last 2 years, performers and audience members have donated generously to suicide prevention. At the fundraiser shows, we’ve had musicians, stand up comedians, artists, and improvisers entertain and even explore the topic, as well as volunteers from the AFSP speak in an effort to help.

I want to thank all those who’ve contributed in the past to further the advancement of mental health. With the 2008 signing of the Mental Health Parity & Addiction Act, health insurances offering mental health coverage have to offer benefits equal to medical and surgical conditions. In addition to psychiatric treatment & therapy, there are community meetings, lifelines, and much much more. If you are in crisis, do not hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you are looking for more information on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention please visit www.afsp.org. To donate to the Syracuse Improv Collective team raising money for the AFSP, visit:
http://afsp.donordrive.com/team/syracuseimprovcollective

A warm thank you to Stephen Peters for sharing his story. We hope you’ll join us for our show tomorrow night, 10/22, 8PM at The Vault – 451 S. Warren St. All proceeds will benefit AFSP.

Thank you to all the performers, Collectivists, and AFSP volunteers who support the cause and this show. We want to shout out: our host, Anthony DeMario of 107.9; Zeke Leonard of the Tin Can Toucan Twin Cantina, for entertaining & educating us with his folk instrument inventions and songs of the working class; Andrea Springer, for bringing us laughter & catharsis; Meghan, for drawing improvisational art and auctioning it for charity, and improvisers for…well…improvising.

3rd Annual AFSP Fundraiser Event

screen-shot-2016-10-08-at-2-29-40-pmWe are humbled to welcome you to our annual fundraiser show. On October 22nd at The Vault, all proceeds for the evening will go to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This is a cause that is dear to many of us. Representatives from the organization will be there to speak to the work they do in education, advocacy, research, and support. We hope you will give generously with us.

We are pulling out all the stops this year for a fun variety show, including our guest host: 107.9 radio personality and AFSP advocate Anthony DeMario. The players include:

Tin Can Toucan Twin Cantina – kick-butt folk music
Andrea Springer – kick-butt stand-up
Heavy Metal Heat Wave
Satan’s Closet

In the face of the darkness, we offer our little spark – a raucous reminder of our love for life, a claim for hope in the face of depression and the stigmas surrounding mental illness.

10/22 – 8 PM
The Vault – 451 S. Warren St
$5 Minimum Donation
All proceeds benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Our 5th Birthday – Why Long Form?

Greetings, comedy lover!

We are pleased to invite you to our birthday bash show. All of the Collective’s famous teams will perform, including our lovely new addition, MATHED POTATOES. First come, first get-to-eat cake! And cookies.

9/23, 8PM @ The Vault
451 S. Warren St
$5.
image cred: U of MN

It’s been a super first five years for our Collective. On the occasion of our birthday celebration, I thought you might like this post by one of our founders, Mike Intaglietta. Enjoy:

Why Long Form?

If you grabbed someone off the street and asked them, “What’s comedy improv?” they would almost certainly pull away sharply and possibly scream. You’d be lucky if they didn’t press charges. Don’t grab people off the street. This is a society.

But even if you politely approach someone on the street, ask them for a moment of their time in recognition of the fact that we all lead busy lives, and ask them “What’s comedy improv?” you’re still likely to be met with a questioning look. All experienced improvisers know that there’s only one follow up that will elicit a positive response at this point:

“Like Whose Line is it Anyway?

Whose Line, the original British version and its American descendant, has done incredible things for the popularity of improv. It brought a niche performance art form into the living rooms of hundreds of thousands of homes (I guess… I don’t follow TV ratings) complete with recognizable names and faces. But it’s also cemented the idea that improv is just one thing: short form games. This can be tricky for those who do another thing: long form.

For the uninitiated, short form consists mostly of individual, 2-5 minute games with an assortment of rules and restrictions, and often incorporating audience participation. Long form describes varying ways to connect scenes together into one coherent theatrical piece. Definitions and preferences may vary, but the principles of improvisation apply equally to both short and long forms.

Because of the (relative) popularity of short form, we at the Syracuse Improv Collective are occasionally asked why we’re so dedicated to long form. Well, I’ll tell you.

Long form rewards the dedicated performer by allowing players to have complete creative control over the piece they will develop together. The form allows for the creation of rich and dynamic characters, for the development of themes, and for the telling of one or more stories. And none of those freedoms preclude the playing of games within the structure of the form. But the choice of what game to play, how to play, or even if it should be played resides with the players, not the requirement of an emcee.

And long form rewards the engaged audience member. That bit of information a player casually introduces in the first few minutes of a set might make its triumphant return in the last few minutes. A character’s growth may slowly develop and change them, and the audience gets to watch it happen. The audience gets to try to figure out where a scene is going and be delighted when they’re right or even more delighted when they’re wrong.

Long form is improv without a net. Players are not provided the benefit of an inherently funny premise, or with the sweet relief of a 2-3 minute time limit should things not click. There’s a thrill to starting a set with nothing except your wits and your teammates and creating something from the ground up.

We hope you can make it to our birthday show! We delight in our community, perhaps even more than our improv. Thank you for making the last 5 years so much fun.  

We Were on TV!

Thank you to Channel 9’s Bridge Street show for hosting us this morning. In case you missed it, here are links to our two segments:

An Intro to Improv

Playing Busted Tee with the Hosts

Thanks again to Sistina and TeNesha for being good sports and supporting our antics.

If you’re new to the SIC, we would love to see you at one of our upcoming shows (9/23) or at a drop-in class (8/23). Improv is a great opportunity to play, make new friends, become a better listener, and occasionally be funny.

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 2.17.52 PMPhoto credit: channel 9 WSYR

 

Free Library Show – 7/22

Come one, come all!

This Friday night, the SIC will perform at the Marcellus Free Library at 7 PM in an all-ages show. Expect free popcorn and laughs, and bring a lawn chair – the show will be outside! Admission is also free. Whoopee!

For an inside scoop, check out this lovely interview from the Auburn Pub, featuring our very own Chris Malone.

In other news, drop-in classes are very fun. Over a dozen students come each time, many of them new to improv. The next class at CFAC is August 2nd at 6:45 PM. Hope to see you there!

Marcellus-front-view-right

Discovering Improv – A Painter’s Canvas

SIC Grad Women Show

The level 3 graduates’ June show performance was stellar. A few of the newly-minted Collectivists were inspired to write about their experience and share it with you. Here’s Michelle Kivisto, reflecting on the great time she’s had so far:

On a Saturday morning in late February, I walked into a studio space to start Level 2 Improv with the Syracuse Improv Collective.  I met my teacher, Mike, and found a spot to sit as other students entered the room.  It was a space the size of an alleyway, but brightly lit by sunlight from the windows which was reflecting off the white walls and green couches lining the room.  

Class started when we were asked to stand up and begin a warmup. Our task was to pass a snap.  A simple enough task, but with added layers.  You could not begin to snap your fingers until someone passed their snap to you, and you then had to “catch” it, and continue to snap your fingers, until you passed it to someone else.  People personalized their snaps, bouncing them on the floor, juggling them, throwing it in the air and then twirling around and catching it.  All quite theatrical.  But all that was required of anyone in the circle was the ability to snap our fingers and make eye contact with someone to catch and pass the snap.  In reality, we were watching air pass from one person to another. But on that day, in that moment, we were watching a circus act with actual snaps being exchanged between people.

That was the beginning of a magical journey.  I went into a white walled studio but emerged a painted canvas. Each week added more color, more definition. After Level 2 ended I immediately registered for Level 3. In Level 3 I was given tools to start painting the canvas myself, sometimes with other people holding the brush as my scene partners, until eventually with a lot of practice I became a paint by number grid in which I could clearly see where to put the paint next.

As with anything new, the only way to keep from forgetting what you have learned is to practice.  Drop in classes provide a way to meet new people, some of which have never tried improv before, and reunite with improv classmates and teachers. If you are hesitant to sign up for classes or attend a drop in, I can say from experience that everyone is a blank canvas.  Add some color to yours.

Thanks, Michelle. Registration is currently open for level one class, and you can join us for drop-in classes bi-weekly at the Community Folk Art Center. Follow us on Facebook for more details!

Look out below! SIC Launches Drop-in Classes

You asked for it…

Syracuse Improv Collective is pleased to offer drop-in classes this summer! Every other Tuesday, pop in for a 2-hour workshop from a variety of seasoned improv teachers. This is a fun, low-commitment way to try improv, or get a refreshing fresh refresh. You will meet fun new people and get a chance to play with super-supportive veteran performers. It’s like a one-room school house without corporal punishment or stoking the wood stove for warmth!

The Community Folk Art Center has graciously opened their doors to us, and the space is perfect for class. Come to 805 E Genesee Street (near Syracuse Stage) and bring $10 and a fun attitude. We can only keep this super-cheap if you show up, so bring a friend too!

So far we’ve had classes by Mike Borden (scene work) and Phil Gross (intro); we hope to see you on May 24 for Amaya’s terrific teaching debut. This will be one of Amaya’s last appearances with the SIC before moving out of state, so let’s keep that wood stove going!

tl;dr
Drop-in classes for all experience levels
@ 805 E Genesee – Community Folk Art Center
Upcoming schedule (bi-weekly Tuesdays): 5/24, 6/7, 6/21, 7/5, 7/19, 8/2, 8/16, 8/30.
$10

old-wood-stove 2

Okay but seriously it’s really comfortable in CFAC. You won’t need to wear extra layers or anything.

Welcome, Citizens of Syracuse!

If you just learned about us from the recent syracuse.com article, thanks for stopping by!

Based on all the attention we’re getting, the members of the Syracuse Improv Collective have decided to quit their jobs and pursue improvisational comedy full time. Sorry, family! We’re working for laughs now.

Here are some cool facts about the SIC for the uninitiated:

1) We love to laugh
2) Ken Keech is a UNC alum and fan of their basketball program
3) Improv is fun and we offer classes

Come on down to our next show! It’ll be May 6 at the Vault – 451 S. Warren St – just 5 bucks for comedy gold.

credit: kirnan.com

This Post Is Not A Joke (Or A Bit)!

Need a vacation from internet gags on April Fool’s Day? Come on out to our monthly Bank Show! Every show is a special night of comedy magic. We are so grateful to have a community of improvisers and fans who love to have fun. The details:

Friday, April 1 – 8 PM
@ The Vault – 451 S. Warren St, Syracuse – $5 Entry

SEXUAL VEGETABLES
NO FRIENDS, JUST BENEFITS
HEAVY METAL HEATWAVE
SATAN’S CLOSET

Bring some willing friends and join us for a jolly good time – RSVP on facebook.

Book.fooledbert