Electives & Workshops

THE PYTHON PROCESS: WRITING, RE-WRITING, AND COLLABORATING with Kim Howard Johnson
After recently spending January on the road with John Cleese, Howard has returned to Chicago to present his own insights into the Monty Python writing process, and how it can work for you. This eight-week workshop will immerse participants in the Python creative process, and by the end of the final session, participants will have completed, polished sketches which can be presented on stage as a sketch show or revue.

The sessions begin with a detailed look at the Python process as Howard, occasional collaborator and former personal assistant to John Cleese, will discuss the general Python approach to writing and the various writing styles of the group members. Monty Python’s Flying Circus clips will be shown which demonstrate their styles, and clips from pre-Python and post-Python works will also be featured to demonstrate how their styles evolved. Howard will also discuss his own experiences and offer an insider’s perspective concerning their sketch-writing, with examples of extremely rare, never-seen-by-the-public scripts. Students will learn the value of editing with examples by the Pythons. Finally, students will “collaborate” with the Python teams on a sketch, and learn how to use John Cleese’s advice on sketch-writing.

Students will be asked to write three short sketches in this class, based on the various styles of the Python writing teams, but they won’t have to do it alone. Just as the Pythons collaborate, the students will collaborate as they complete their assignments. And then, after class discussion, their sketches will be passed along to other writing teams within the class—the same process used in so much modern television writing.

In addition to the writing and discussion, there will be lots of Python videos used throughout the sessions as examples. There will be some favorite well-known Python shows, but there will also be some rare clips of pre-Python sketches, live Python shows, and much more, including videos of Howard interviewing Terry Jones on writing, and a discussion of the John Cleese method for increasing creativity for writers.

By the end of the course, students will study running order and putting together a show, including criteria used for picking sketches, links, timing, and casting, so that by the final class, students will have a half-hour show prepared, which they will rehearse and present at the conclusion of the class to an invited audience.

Biography:

Kim “Howard” Johnson has been associated with Monty Python since they first landed in America. He wrote a Monty Python fanzine, joined them (and even appeared) in Life of Brian, appeared in Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl, has written four and a half books on the Pythons (including The First 280 Years of Monty Python and Monty Python’s Tunisian Holiday), co-written a screenplay with Terry Jones, and served as personal assistant to John Cleese. He directed the U.S. premiere of Buchanan’s Finest Hour, written by Terry Jones and Michael Palin, at the Second City etc. He was also a founding member of the Baron’s Barracudas (the first house team of the ImprovOlympic–now the iO), co-wrote Truth in Comedy with Charna Halpern and Del Close, and wrote The Funniest One in the Room: the Lives and Legends of Del Close, the biography of his longtime friend. He has performed, taught, and directed improvisation and comedy for many years

When:  Sundays from 12pm-3pm beginning March 5th 
Where: The Writing Room located on the second floor of the iO Theater.
Cost: $325.00
How many: 14 students

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PYTHON PROV LEVEL 1 with Kim Howard Johnson
Everyone knows that there are two types of comedy that simply cannot be improvised—Shakespeare and Monty Python. Both are so carefully scripted, re-written and polished, with words so carefully chosen, that to try to improvise in the style of—

I’m sorry, I have just been informed that one of the most successful shows at the iO is, in fact, Improvised Shakespeare. Well then, in that case, why not improvise in the style of Monty Python?

And so, PythonProv Level 1 will guide experienced improvisers through the Monty Python style of comedy, and how to use improvisation to create new long form comedy inspired by the Pythons.

PythonProv will examine the components of Monty Python’s Flying Circus and the different writing styles involved, and focus on the stream of consciousness approach that was so important to their TV shows. Students will improvise sketches, interviews, documentaries, game shows, and music as portrayed by the Pythons. We will examine Python characters and create new ones of our own. And of course, we will watch videos of classic sketches (and some rare examples of pre-Python works).

And at the end of this eight week session will be a PythonProv show to present to a weary world.

Biography:

Kim “Howard” Johnson has been associated with Monty Python since they first landed in America. He wrote a Monty Python fanzine, joined them (and even appeared) in Life of Brian, appeared in Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl, has written four and a half books on the Pythons (including The First 280 Years of Monty Python and Monty Python’s Tunisian Holiday), co-written a screenplay with Terry Jones, and served as personal assistant to John Cleese. He directed the U.S. premiere of Buchanan’s Finest Hour, written by Terry Jones and Michael Palin, at the Second City etc. He was also a founding member of the Baron’s Barracudas (the first house team of the ImprovOlympic–now the iO), co-wrote Truth in Comedy with Charna Halpern and Del Close, and wrote The Funniest One in the Room: the Lives and Legends of Del Close, the biography of his longtime friend. He has performed, taught, and directed improvisation and comedy for many years

When:  Sundays from 3pm-6pm beginning March 5th 
Where: The 2nd Beat Room located on the second floor of the iO Theater.
Cost: $295.00
How many: 16 students

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COMEDY VIDEO PRODUCTION 1: THE TOOLS with Derek Cox

In this 8 week iO Comedy Network class students will learn the basics of how to take your short comedy idea and turn it into a solid video sketch or web-series. Learning video production via hand-on experience with camera/lighting/sound equipment as well as green screen instruction, students learn the basics of camera skill & technology, art & design theory, sound recording, and the nuts and bolts of pre-production (script breakdowns, casting, locations, shot listing, pre-visualization). This class will also discuss the larger film/tv industry and may feature industry professional guest speakers from multiple fields.

About Derek
Derek Cox is a Director of Photography and owner of Polymyth Productions in Chicago, IL. In his first year in Chicago, he produced over 100 comedy videos to build up a portfolio for his business. Since then, his clientele has included the likes of Above Average, Discover Card, and GE. He has directed and DP’ed award winning short films, web series, and features that have been screened internationally. His work has been featured on the front page of comedy websites such as Funny or Die and Cracked.com, and has won awards at LAWEBfest, the Vatican film festival, and the Chicago Regional Emmys. He’s also very proud of this TV Pilot he shot/co-directed called Old Town. Derek is an improvisor with the Harold team Denver at iO Chicago. To view more of Derek’s work check out polymyth.com

When:  Mondays from 6:30pm to 9:30pm beginning January 2nd
Where: The Writing Room located on the second floor of the iO Theater.
Cost: $295.00
How many: 15 students

 

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COMEDY VIDEO PRODUCTION 2: Production Intensive with Quinn Wilson

This iO Comedy Network class will be a hit-the-ground-running, crash course in making original sketch videos.  Students will make 4 videos in this 8-week class (shooting every other week) gaining a large amount of experience on a film set in a short period of time. We will shoot exclusively student scripts, under 2-pages.  We will utilize the base knowledge and skills learned in CVP 1 as students rotate through many of the crucial roles on a small film set (Director/Producer/Director of Photography/Gaffer/Sound Mixer/Art Director etc.).  This class will be fairly demanding of time and incredibly rewarding in terms of completed materials.

***If you have not taken CVP1, but have a very simple understanding of DSLR camera production, please email the instructor explaining your experience to be accepted into the class (Quinn Wilson – Quinn@iOimprov.com – ATT: CVP2).  We strive to accept as many students as possible.

About Quinn Wilson
Wilson is a narrative and commercial director/producer based out of Chicago. He is rep’ed as a director with Big Spoon Industries, produces freelance on such indie feature as ‘Embers’ and TV commercials with such companies as Explore Media, and is the Creative for the iO Comedy Network  He has experience and a network in the scene in LA & NYC, as well as owning his own production company.  He worked with such companies as Funny or Die & Break Media and works professionally in Chicago with numerous casting directors, agents, production companies and creatives. His films have won various awards at national and international film festivals, including Best Family Film at the Amsterdam International Film Fest. Wilson is also an improvisor as well performing in Chicago Improv Fest, Sketchfest, Houston Improv Fest, Americas Got Talent, and weekly at Chemically Imbalanced Comedy. He prides himself on shaping each class to the wants/needs of his current students to help them learn and grow best as well as promoting a supportive and encourage classroom environment.

When:  Dates TBD
Where:The Writing Roomlocated on the second floor of the iO Theater.
Cost: $315.00
How many: 16 students


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