Play | rance, improv, pretend, imagine

“Don’t try to do everything at the same time.
And don’t limit yourself to just improv.
Ultimately, you’re stressing out about how good you can pretend and how well you can imagine and make-believe.
So, like, give it – give it the play that it is.
And bring in other life experience to make your play better.”

– Rance Rizzutto


[photo from Episode 193]

The above quote is from Episode 193: Tara DeFrancisco & Rance Rizzutto, an interview by Jimmy Carrane (web, Improv Nerd blog, Facebook) for his Improv Nerd podcast. Carrane asked what advice would Tara and Rance give to new improvisors, and the above is from Rance’s response. I especially enjoyed hearing –

“Ultimately, you’re stressing out about how good you can pretend and how well you can imagine and make-believe.”

– which is the crux of improv – pretending, imagining, make believing. (Bravo!)

It was great hearing Rance’s voice. Rance (iO Chicago, web, Facebook) was one of my instructors at Chicago’s iO Five-Week Summer Intensive.


(actual size. to scale)

Among the five summer intensive improv instructors I had throughout the five weeks, Rance was my (and fifteen other new improv friends) Week 3 improv instructor specifically focused on two-person scenes.


Clockwise starting from top left: Rance, Eric, Chris, Minh-Anh, Will, Ben, Yury, Geoffrey, Ruta, Ginny, Aurelija, Shirley (self), Brittany, Kath, Tim, Simone, Jake

Rance’s closing response to Carrane’s question –

“And bring in other life experience to make your play better.”

–  reminded me of one of Rance’s suggestions encouragements, which boiled down to learn and experience new things. He suggested taking advantage of some of the discounted activities offered by providers such as Groupon and LivingSocial. There are conventional, as well as off-the-beaten-path, activities one can learn and experience, and such experiences can further enrich one’s improv play. Good stuff!

And admittedly, one of my several “ah ha” moments last year happened during my week with Rance. He shared –

surprise for a_ax

“Always be ready for a surprise.
Already be ready to surprise.” 

20150722_170519_ginny(I think of this like an hourglass where scenes are a series of surprises (and discoveries), and each improvisor can turn it [the scene] over and over to evolve the scene and relationship.) This came from one of our scene work exercises, which was described as Inspector Clouseau, from the The Pink Panther series. The exercise was based on the relationship between on Inspector Clouseau and his trustworthy servant, Cato. Cato was tasked to surprise Clouseau. (some clips online). Lucky me, one of my fave scenes (which i lovingly refer to as eyeball) was when I was paired up with the talented Ms. Ginny.

What do you think is the crux of improv? If you listened to Jimmy’s interview of Tara and Rance, what were some of your favorite moments?



Buoyant | unplug, celebrate, what you know

“To anyone scared of the future or chasing some thing that ultimately doesn’t matter – go outside as much as you can and unplug, go talk to friends, take care of you. Life doesn’t need to be a rat race. Celebrate. Stay buoyant. Stay loved. Treat people well. Cut out anyone that makes you feel like less than. It doesn’t matter. Are we getting it yet? It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. It matters what you know.”

– Tara DeFrancisco


In summer 2015, I met Tara at Chicago’s iO Five-Week Summer Intensive. Among the five summer intensive improv instructors I had throughout the five weeks, Tara was my (and fifteen other new improv friends) Week 2 improv instructor.

Wk2 with Tara_group

Beginning at the top row (Row 1): Will, Eric, Geoffrey, Yury, Ben, Chris. (Row 2) Ruta, Jake, Tara, Tim, Minh-Anh, Ginny, Aurelija. (Row 3) Simone, Brittany, Kath, Shirley.

Tara’s sentiment* that I have shared is an excerpt of her Facebook post, which was about a recent milestone in her life.

And here’s the thing – from my behavior designer and habit coaching perspectives, I was going to write a little more about my thoughts of her sentiment and offer some tiny habits to consider. Then I thought, “What’s more important?” Enjoy Tara’s quote from your perspective.

What is one thing that comes to mind when you read Tara’s sentiment?

*Thanks, Tara, for letting me share your sentiment with friends.


ImprovWordArt | jake, iO week 3, section 4


jake_curtis(See ImprovWordArt for Week 1 over here, and Week 2 over here)
Meet Jake Curtis. I met Jake on 2015 July 7, which was the first day of the iO Five-Week Summer Intensive in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Jake was one of 15 people I met that day in what was known as Section 4 (out of nine sections total) of the summer intensive program. This post is the third of sharing Jake’s ImprovWordArt.

Week 3 with Rance. Rance Rizzutto (at iO Chicago, web, Facebook) was our instructor for the class described as follows –

This class concentrates on the two-person scene, the anchor of long-form improvisation.

– and indeed, we dug and dove deep into two-person scenes.


Our two-person scenes were inspired, created, and evolved from sound, movement, silence, point of view, intense eye contact, touch, tropes, emotion, fear, and (my very personal favorite) – SURPRISE!

surprise for a_ax

I think of this like an hour glass where any scene can be a series of surprises (including discoveries) and each improvisor can “turn it [the scene] over and over and …”. (I’ll have a separate post on this later. This was my “ah ha” moment.)

Week 3 Recap

Here is Jake’s word art for our third week of improv. And whether or not you were in our class and whether or not you are an improvisor, there are many life-related quips and statements in this lovely ImprovWordArt. Below I have written several quips.

12006668_10153679598697774_2862075023178987423_o (1)

:: play like it’s going to last forever; edit like you’ve got some more ::
always trust that something will happen ::
respond line by line :: engage with your environment ::
experience real life and your improv will improve ::
yeah, yeah, yeah :: don’t (you) fix mistaks ::
find the joy :: indecision will fuck you up ::
two person scenes are at the center of everything ::
explore the world you have created ::
always be ready to surprise your partner ::
if you are the villain, you can not win ::
energy = emotion X intensity ::
words are secondary to emotion :: you have to listen ::
enter with everything ready to drop anything ::
one-third –
imagine 1/3 of your audience is blind,
imagine 1/3 of your audience is deaf,
imagine 1/3 of your audience is regular ::
kisses are just high-5’s with lips, don’t be scared of them ::
the audience will feel as much as you feel ::
slice of life or today’s the day!
(can emotionally jump start a scene) ::
scenes don’t need to be jokey ::
ask what does your character want? ::
if you know where you are, don’t worry about other people ::
scenes between strangers are about vulnerability ::
(nice to meet you) ::
don’t shove the who, what, where out immediately ::
go big or go home :: react to things ::

What caught your eye in Jake’s ImprovWordArt? What resonates with you? If you are not an improvisor, to what do you relate? If you are an improvisor – agree or disagree?