The Python Process: Writing, Re-writing, and Collaborating
With Kim “Howard” Johnson
This is a four-part workshop that will immerse participants in the Monty Python creative process. By the end of the fourth session, participants will have completed, polished sketches which can be presented on stage and/or filmed as a sketch show or revue.
The first three-hour session is a detailed look at the Python process. Python insider Kim “Howard” Johnson, 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. Johnson will also discuss his own experiences and offer an insider’s perspective concerning their sketch-writing. Finally, students will be assigned to write a 2-3 minute sketch in the style of Eric Idle, and be prepared to cast it and read it the following week.
At the beginning of the second three-hour session, we will discuss the Eric Idle-inspired sketches written during the previous week, including any problems experienced, and students will briefly cast and rehearse their Eric Idle sketches before reading them for the class. Afterward, each one will be discussed in detail. In the second half, Johnson will discuss the Terry Jones-Michael Palin and John Cleese-Graham Chapman collaborations, with video examples, and students will form pairs. There are two homework assignments. (1) Students must collaborate with another person in the class and write a sketch in the Jones-Palin or Cleese-Chapman style. (2) And, each student, on their own, will also re-write one of the Idle-inspired sketches.
The third session will begin with readings of the Idle-inspired re-writes, followed by discussions on how they were changed and how well the changes worked. Then, each team will read out their Jones-Palin or Cleese-Chapman sketches, followed by a discussion. Then, as before, a different team will re-write that sketch for the following week. And, as a second assignment, each team that wrote a Jones-Palin sketch must write a Cleese-Chapman sketch, and vice versa. Of course, there will be video clips to illustrate points.
The fourth and final session will begin with readings of the re-written sketches and discussions about the collaborations. The new sketches will be read as well, followed by analysis. Students will be asked to work together to decide on a running order, edit sketches, or otherwise assemble the material into a 20-30 minute presentation, which they will present at the conclusion of the class.
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, co-written a screenplay with Terry Jones, and served as personal assistant to John Cleese. 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 for many years.
When: Mondays, 6-9pm. January 20th – February 10th.
Where: Media Room
How much: $155.00
How many: 14 maximum
With Dave Asher
This class is good for anyone from the beginner who doesn’t feel comfortable singing to the expert who loves to sing. If your goal is to improve, you will. Exercises cover the range from group sonic explorations to solo songs, from rhyming choruses and choreography to truth in comedy with music. The focus is on applying the basic long form tools of agreement and group mind to the realm of music. This is a very organic connection. Finding the games of things, making patterns, keeping a rhythm, and supporting your teammate’s moves are essential to good improv and become even more relevant when the stakes are heightened to the point that music becomes necessary. Finding the truth in a moment brings even more rewards. There will be a performance night at the end of the eight-week session
When: Fridays, beginning March 7th 6:00pm – 8:00 pm
Where: iO Annex 3rd Beat Room
How much: $180.00
How many: 18 maximum
Combustion and Craft : Creating Solo Material
With Michael Lehrer
Shaping inspired choices into unique, dynamic original characters.
First, this class will help you unleash those wonderful ideas that we all have. The thoughts and observations born from our unique lives. Simple, small, inspired ideas.
Second, we’ll develop the idea. Through improv and writing, alone and with the group, working through common pitfalls of cliche, writers block, over-thinking and working too hard.
This class will teach you to trust your gut, your choices, and all those funny things that inspire you.
When: Tuesdays, March 4th 12:00pm – 3:00 pm
Where: iO Annex Harold Room
How much: $280.00
How many: 12 maximum