UCB-LA | Bangarang! | 04.22.14
Bangarang!’s guest improv team last night was the cast of Enlightened.
So you wanna learn more about Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham, the adorable best friend comedy ladies who have a new show called Playing House that premieres on USA Network that happens to be their first original comedy series and please watch it at 10pm/9c on April 29th and tell all your friends to do it too? GOOD. Chances are, you’ve seen Lennon and/or Jess without knowing it, whether it be from their plentiful parts in all your favorite comedy shows and films or Jessica’s Marshalls commercials (you know they make you want to save on big brands). This post will catch you up on Jessica and Lennon’s awesome work and friendship so you can be all caught up for the premiere of Playing House!
Twitter - @lennonparham @jessica_stclair @playinghouseusa
Best Friends Forever
Sadly only 6 episodes before cancellation, BFF is the best primer for Jessica and Lennon’s brand of relatable, warm comedy. Jessica moves back in with best friend Lennon despite Lennon’s live-in boyfriend Joe. Hijinks ensue, Queenetta will win your heart, you will ship Jessica and Rav.
+ Full series streaming on NBC.com
On Comedy Bang! Bang!, Jessica St. Clair brings us Marissa Wompler, Earwolf’s enthusiastic teenage intern who immediately threw on the cans and womped it up into our hearts. While Marissa has been around CBB for a while, her episodes with Lennon’s Charlotte Listler - Marissa’s strange STARs program teacher - are required listening.
+ Comedy Bang Bang #154 - Finger Guns
+ Earwolf Presents #19 - Christmas Womptacular
+ Comedy Bang Bang #220 - 4 Paydays & A Baby
+ Comedy Bang Bang #238 - Marissa Wompler’s Birthday Pool Party LIVE
+ Comedy Bang Bang #282 - Wompster’s University
On Improv4Humans, Jess and Len joined Jason Mantzoukas for an episode with what Matt Besser calls “perfect chemistry” - I laughed myself to tears in public listening to this, so beware.
+ #42 - Quadruple Mix-In
+ #42.5 - Bonus Cut: Childhood Rivalry
On How Did This Get Made?, Jess and Len watch The Adventures of Pluto Nash and Jessica is confused literally to the point of tears.
+ #34 - The Adventures of Pluto Nash
While not taped together like the other podcasts in this post, Jessica and Lennon’s episodes of You Made It Weird and The JV Club will teach you all you need to know about both women. Whether you’re looking for discussion of Anne of Green Gables or the musical Chess or advice on how to make it in comedy, look no farther.
+ You Made It Weird #101 - Jessica St. Clair
+ You Made It Weird #140 - Lennon Parham
+ The JV Club #8 - Jessica St. Clair
+ The JV Club #85 - Lennon Parham
Watch tons of promos and cute videos from Jess and Len on Playing House’s Youtube channel!
>Did I miss something important? Let me know! Expect this to be updated as the gals do more podcasts and things to gear up for Playing House!
Jess & Len PRIMER by our sweet friend Caitlin!
Embracing the uncertainty of the first seconds of the scene is essential to a good scene. Starting with small and simple offers relieve the pressure. Being connected with the present and with your partners gets you out of your head.
Improv scenes tend to do be a loop of:
There is something a little magical about being one of only a few black people in a room, on a street, in a space. There is, for me at least, always an acknowledgement and an appreciation and an acceptance of each other, no matter the gender or the age, and it makes me feel connected in a way that…
'if at first you don't succeed…' The science version!
Is there a way to practice being funnier? Generally, people say no. A sense of humor is so personal and subjective that we can’t teach it, all we can do is tell you how to best express your sense of humor. You tell us what you think is funny, and then we’ll tell you how to exaggerate that and heighten it.
Well, probably. But I’m trying to think of exercises and principles that might at least increase funniness. This feels sort of forbidden to even try. I might look back in a few months and think “Nope, you can’t really teach it.” But for now I’m trying.
This is one of those entries that should definitely be regarded as BETA.
So: One of the clearest ways to have something funny in your improv scene is to have something IRONIC. It’s not the only way, but it’s the clearest way. By ironic I mean something behaving in the opposite way that we expect it to.
A drill sergeant screaming nice things. A Mother Superior tearing apart her hotel room in a rage. A teacher burning a book. A bully cheering on the math team.
Could be the setting. A drill sergeant acting just like a drill sergeant but he’s in a yoga class.
It’s very close to simply being MEAN or STUPID — but it’s not. It’s something behaving in the opposite way. It’s not someone acting arbitrarily random, it’s opposite of their expected way. It’s not a drill sergeant being really into dubstep. It’s a drill sergeant being forgiving, or being against rules, or being soft-spoken.
Gilbert and Sullivan called this “the topsy-turvy.”
I bring this up because I see a lot of improvisers do scenes where something weird is happening, but it really isn’t funny.