“Girl Meets Boy” (lesson plan), Guidelines to Improvised Comedy

Well hello again.

I’ve been spending a lot of time working on writing… but CREATIVE writing wouldn’t be accurate.

For the past year, I’ve written essays for my Masters course in Applied Linguistics, and every time I’ve moaned, “but I’m not doing any writing”, people have said, “but you’re writing your essays every week.” Not the same.

As always, being a teacher, I’ve written lesson plans. Mostly they’ve just been simple notes for myself. Recently, I submitted a proper one to a teaching website called Designer Lessons – my article was called “Girl Meets Boy”, and it’s a thought provoking discussion and video class, (with the link here – even if you’re not interested in teaching, the video at the start is worth watching)

And, as I’ve been running nearly every improvised comedy workshop in the past two months, I’ve done a lot of lesson planning for that, too. Even though I’ve been doing improvised comedy for, in total, about 6 years now, it’s only in the last 12 months that I’ve really started to learn how to teach it – mostly through, you know, teaching it. I’m getting pretty good at designing the direction of a class, and what particular points I want people to notice this week.

Continue reading ““Girl Meets Boy” (lesson plan), Guidelines to Improvised Comedy”

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Where I’ve been, and Some Jokes I did

Well hello Blog!
It’s been a long time. 4 and a half months.

When I last typed stuff here, it was still hot. Also, I still had a lot of free time, I was trying to get started on performing comedy, and my flat was cleaner.

What changed? Well, quite a lot. First, and most importantly, I started studying again. I’m doing a Masters in Applied Linguistics and Bilingual Acquisition in Multilingual Contexts, which is a big way of saying “ooh, look at me and my cleverness.” While I’m doing that, I’m also continuing to teach part time, and between all of that, I’ve been performing stand up comedy and pulling together a group of funny souls to perform improvised comedy too.

As a result, the writing kind of got…. pushed to the back. And it annoyed me. “I should write again”, I told myself every other day. But I wasn’t even finding time to read anything that wasn’t an empirical study, so I can see why that didn’t happen.

But now, a month’s reprieve. I only have 2 Masters classes for the next month, and instead of the stress-inducing 12 hours of classes (which obviously meant at least that again outside of class to study), I now have a measly 4.

I plan on using the time to stretch my writing muscles (at first) and then get some full on writing done (after that).

I also need to try and get our first Improvised Comedy performance arranged, and write some new material for a new stand up comedy set.

While I get that started, I thought I’d show you something I did over my long hiatus – one of my two stand up comedy sets! (with any luck, I’ll get a copy of the video of the other set soon)

Some forewarnings

– it comes with a long and glowing introduction from the MC – I just skip that bit.

– one of  comedians really is called Adolf. That’s not a joke.

– and it ends when the camera runs out of battery. The last minute BEFORE the battery died… I kind of lost my stride. It was very unpracticed, that bit. As in, written that afternoon, not really learnt. So feel free to stop before the end.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcwLTYaG8H0&feature=plcp&context=C3773470UDOEgsToPDskIAfXP7aaH2noCRebKOMRht

Stand Up Comedy!

After a LONG wait, here is my stand up comedy show in all it’s glory. I messed up a bit, got things a little out of order, and didn’t hit the delivery on a few, BUT I had a lot of fun.

Two last notes:

It IS rude.  Be forewarned of rudeness.

The first couple of lines that are missing are something like “HELLO!” (hello from audience) I’m Matt and I’m single.

Groanworthy Jokes and 3 Minute Haikus.

Hello, Blog.

I looked back over the past couple of weeks and thought – Oh, I’ve not been very productive. But that’s not entirely true.

First off, I’ve been writing reports. In Spanish. And some reports in English. It’s been moderately time consuming. I’ve also been creating (and marking) my own exam papers. This term, more than previous ones, I made an effort to create a fair few of the questions myself, rather than just cutting and pasting them from teacher book exam papers, and I’m quite happy with the results.

Secondly, I’ve made the discovery that writing poetry on a whiteboard is actually a really good place to do it. I spend so much of my working day using the medium of whiteboards to express meaning, and shuffling things around and making it look understandable that when I taught haikus to my Advanced Class yesterday, I actually found it quite easy to cut and move words around and get what I wanted to say. I think I need to buy a little one for myself.

Here they are.

Continue reading “Groanworthy Jokes and 3 Minute Haikus.”

(Things Left Unsaid)

I was running out of the house to work the other day, but couldn’t find my notebook. Turned out later, that I’d actually managed to leave it at work the day before, but at the time, I needed something to write on. If I don’t have paper, I’ll need it, so I try never to go out without some. Also, I can read back through my old stuff.

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on a train.”

a

So I picked up one of my old notebooks, hoping for a blank page or two, and came across an old half-finished poem that I’ve attacked.

This one is inspired by two Young Learner teachers at my school. The style is like the notes that Claire makes on the language she aims to elicit from children – she makes the most ridiculously complete notes, which are useful when you want to steal ideas. And the idea and concept come from Kirsten, who hates to teach anything related to family, because for some children, herself included, talking too much about your family can reopen some painful wounds.

As you’ll see in a sec, it’s kind of an experimental style. I’ve actually written three or four more verses of dubious quality, so for now, they’re cut. Here’s the poem:

(Things Left Unsaid)

This is my (sister),
(her) name is (Claire)
(She) works as a (teacher)
with (long curly) hair.

“Are you good friends?”
“Yes we are.” / “No we’re not.”
(She) (always) wears (hats)
when the weather is (hot).

(She) likes (over-ripe) peaches,
(sweet ooze down her chin,
that she wipes with her finger
and sucks it back in)

(she) (laughs) when (she)’s happy,
and (hides) when (she)’s sad
(the truth from her family,
the troubles she’s had).

(She) hates (stormy nights),
that’s one of (her) fears
(though the lines on the window
are raindrops, not tears).

(She)’s (older) than me,
and her birthday is (missed,
when she once ran away
for a man she had kissed)

I love to (remember)
my (sister)’s (blue) eyes,
(the look that she) gives me
when (she rolls them and sighs).

(She) (died) last year,
and now (don’t you see),
now (she)’s (whoever)
I want (her) to be.

TOAST Part 1 of 3

Hola!

The beach isn't quite this empty yet
The beach isn't quite this empty yet

Well, it’s been a busy two weeks, but it looks like my life is set to take on a semblance of order once again. I’m back in Barcelona, I’m back to teaching, and I’m reminded that I love it.

Still, I won’t waffle on about the events of the past two weeks, except to say that if you’re a teacher in Barcelona and your company needs an excellent, enthusiastic teacher for morning or afternoon classes, then I’m your man.

I was routing around through my old things, and I found “Toast”. Once upon a time, I used to be a bit of an amateur actor… with the emphasis on Hamateur. I also used to try and write plays. SO I’ve made a new category for my posts. I’ve called it “Stage“. Here, I’ll post anything theatrical I come up with, which will include any comedy I work on for my stand-up comedy routine.

I thought, to buy myself some more writing time, I’d post this little skit in pieces, one after the other. So, the tantalisingly short (and probably least funny) first part of Toast.

TOAST


A kitchen with doors upstairs (Stage Left) and outside (Stage Right). There is a square table centre stage with 2 or 3 chairs around it, and a rectangular block/set of drawers front stage, slightly stage right, facing away from the audience, with a toaster and coffee machine, and 2 mugs on it There is another mug in the drawers below.. The block comes up to about chest height. Stage right, there is a set of high cupboards, containing cereals, bread, bowls, spoons, etc. breakfast things. A man staggers in, groaning, suffering from a headache. He walks slowly to the kettle, and starts to boil himself some water for a cup of coffee. Another man pokes his head round the side of the door slowly. Both men have messy hair and clothes, and sunken eyes, and at first, talking takes great concentration.

TOM: Make it two.
MIKE: Eh?
TOM: Two mugs.
MIKE: Oh.
He starts pouring.
TOM: No. Two mugs.
MIKE: I’ve got two mugs out.
TOM: Yeah, but I want two mugs, and you want one.
He staggers in.
TOM: After a night like that, I badly need some.
They stand in silence, one measuring out a large amount of coffee, the other staring at the kettle.
MIKE: What… what happened?
TOM: I can’t remember… there was a white toilet I seem to remember being sick in… or around…
MIKE: No, I mean, why were we drinking?
TOM (smiling): Wait, I’ve got a good line for this.
MIKE: What?
TOM: You know, you say that, and then I say something really witty back.
Short pause.
MIKE: Why were we drinking?
TOM: Because – No, I’ve forgotten it.
MIKE: Oh, what an anticlimax.
TOM: I thought you were in the shower, anyway.
MIKE: I thought you were.
TOM: I heard the water running.
MIKE: Oh, did we leave it running last night.
TOM: I… don’t think I had a shower.
MIKE: Me neither.
TOM (slowly, making sure he gets it right): To forget that we’ve got a drinking problem!
MIKE: What?
TOM: That’s the witty line!
Pause.
MIKE: But I don’t have a drinking problem.
TOM: No, neither do I. Drinkings not the problem. It’s when to stop that I fall down. Or I fall down when I stop. One or the other.
MIKE: Tom! You’re jokes are bad enough when you’re sober! Don’t try my patience.
TOM: Sorry.
MIKE: So, who’s in the shower?
They listen. Silence.
TOM: No one.
MIKE: Good. That’s settled then.
TOM: But I heard it running a minute ago.
MIKE: I think I did too.
TOM: Maybe it was something else.
MIKE: Is it raining.
TOM: No.
MIKE: Not that then.
TOM: No.
A beautiful girl, wrapped revealingly in a tight dressing gown, walks in. Her hair is wet.
GIRL: I feel much better now. Nothing like a shower to clear your head in the morning.
Tom and Mike stand in silence looking at her.
GIRL: What’s wrong with you two? Oh. I see you’re making me a cup of coffee (seeing the three cups), but no thanks, I’ll be fine. I’ll be back in a minute, I’m just going to dry my hair.
MIKE (recovering): Err… don’t worry, I’ll drink it.
She has left. They have both woken up now, and start to get breakfast things out of various cupboards.
TOM: Drink what?
MIKE: The coffee.
TOM: But you were going to anyway.
MIKE: Yes but – who is she? Where did you find her, and why didn’t you tell me?
TOM: I was about to ask you that too.
MIKE: You mean you didn’t bring her back?
TOM: Then you must have. She can’t have just broken in.
MIKE: A night of pleasure, and I’ve completely forgotten it! I don’t think so.
TOM: You probably fell asleep!
MIKE: YOU did! I’ve never seen her before!
GIRL (re-entering): Seen who before?
MIKE: Erm, that old lady outside.
TOM: Mike’s a bit paranoid about, er, people breaking in, and things.
MIKE: Yeah.
GIRL: Oh. For a minute I’d thought you’d forgotten who I am. (jokily) You were very drunk at the time.
TOGETHER (insistent): No! I , er we, er I haven’t forgotten! No!
GIRL: Good. You’re obviously better at holding your drink than I thought.
Silence, as she combs back her hair, and gets some cereal.
MIKE: Er… yeah… I’ve just got to go and get dressed.
TOM: Me too.
GIRL: But you haven’t finished your coffee!
TOM: It can wait.
MIKE: I prefer it cold.
They walk offstage hurriedly together.

More on this story later!
More on this story later!

Dispense

Good news. Week 2 is much easier than week 1. I’m less stressed, and I’m getting my planning done in no time, which leaves time for hill walks, trips to the beach, even a capoeira lesson from my friend Paulo. And of course, some writing.

Not me or Paulo
Not me or Paulo

All of this work has left me turning to coffee again. Today was a record-breaker – 3 and a half cups, and then a cup of tea 2 hours later. And I still went to sleep, another 2 hours after that. And missed lunch.

Truth is, I get addicted to things, very easily. It’s why I’ve never tried smoking. It’s connected to why I can’t read books out of order, why I lock myself in my room to churn through episodes of a TV series. Perhaps it’s why I’ve never watched “Lost”, because by all accounts, I would curl into a ball, starve, and forget how to communicate with humans.

So coffee is something that I avoid, unless I need it to sustain myself. But sometimes the world of teaching can be stressful, and more frequently, the world of teaching needs you to be totally mentally alert and full of enthusiasm that’s as genuine as can be, at the drop of a hat.

This poem was written when I first began teaching. When I first threw myself into teaching teenagers, and then straight from that class to another with adults. Something I’d cope with now, and have done, but something that at the time needed some intense planning, and some quick improvisation. And at the end of a long day. So this poem was born.coffee

The idea behind it is that the sounds run in total parallel to the rest of the poem. If I was ever to read it aloud, I would either need to tape myself making the noises, or get someone to perform it with me. Experimental? I hope so.

Anyway, I went back to it again this afternoon and made infintessimal changes. I know that bigger changes can and perhaps should be made, but I wanted all the sounds that the words make, to be made. Hmmm.

I’m mostly left with confusion about how exactly to structure it. Like two columns, parallel. A human eye can’t read both sides at once, and directly inserting them breaks the flow of the poem. But it’s a work of theory, not of perfection. I’m going to post it with imperfect editing – this poem was a bitch even in Notepad and Word, so making it look good on the blog is more fuss, and I’m hungry. Remind me to come back and neaten this up sometime.

Dispense

Click // Clink.
Set the cup and check for change. Jingle.
Half a euro.
Need this, five minutes,                   Clink. Thunk.
reading practice, page fifteen.           “Café con Leche”.
How quickly will they finish that? Click.
Too quickly. Whiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
The brain runs a search to the whirr of the coffee grind,
a thick clot of caffeinated sludge, rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
searching for something to sweeten it. Click.
kloussssssssssssssssssssssssh
The gush of the milk at pace with my gurgling thoughts.
A tumble of hard-pressed images rushing past,
Then slowing to a trickle…
Ding.
And it’s over, the break, the panic, the class,
The day, the week rushes past at the pace of a coffee,
Held in a thin plastic cup,
Disposed of lightly and then ready for the next.

Click // Clink.aaaa

Set the cup and check for change. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa Jingle.

Half a euro.

Need this, five minutes,             aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa Clink. Thunk.

reading practice, page fifteen.          aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa “Café con Leche”.

How quickly will they finish that?aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa Click.

Too quickly. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaWhiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

The brain runs a search to the whirr of the coffee grind,

a thick clot of caffeinated sludge, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

searching for something to sweeten it. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaClick.

kloussssssssssssssssssssssssh

The gush of the milk at pace with my gurgling thoughts.

A tumble of hard-pressed images rushing past,

Then slowing to a trickle…

Ding.aaaaaaaa

And it’s over, the break, the panic, the class,

The day, the week rushes past at the pace of a coffee,

Held in a thin plastic cup,

Disposed of lightly and then ready for the next.