Years ago, when Sentimental Lady was on Harold Night, there was a night where Robin Williams came by the theater and asked if there were any improv shows he could sit in on. He didn’t ask in an entitled way. He apologized for asking, seemed to think that the answer would be “no”, and clearly had no idea that he was surrounded by people that had their formative years filled with his work. He had no idea that everyone he was interacting with was in awe of the fact that they were talking to Genie, or Mork, or any number other roles that we grew up with. So, obviously, we said yes.
Backstage, before the show, we all chatted, trying to pretend we weren’t blown away that he’d want to play with us. I remember we talked about history in general and the World War 1 Christmas Truce specifically. He was fascinated by the fact that even in the middle of trying to kill each other, those soldiers wanted to find a way just to be human together. It was kinda heady talk for twenty minutes before an improv show.
He kept asking us, making sure it was ok that he sat in. It was.
At some point, someone asked him what brought him to UCB that night. He said that he had come down from San Francisco for work and to visit his daughter. She was in the audience, and he wanted to perform for her.
We all nodded. That made sense.
Then he went on. He told us that he wanted to prove that he could be at UCB…. The last time he had come around, he had been drinking and in a bad place. He wasn’t sure how he had come across. And he wanted to be there that night, sober, to show himself that he could. He said: “it’s important to me to be around younger generations making comedy. It gives me great joy.” I think about that all the time. Just being around people that were passionate about the thing that he was passionate about, to see people doing the things that he had been doing for thirty years, made him happy. And, at that point, he had shaken one monkey off his back, and this low stakes improv show, where he’d play both the pope and a peeping tom, was proof to himself that he could do it. And then we went on stage and the crowd lost its mind when they saw him and he was funny as fuck.
Before our shows, for the past six years, we do a warm up called thumper. Everyone just says some dumb phrase and does some dumb action and we all repeat it, each week adding new ones on to the ones from the week before. His was to throw his hands up and yell “I’m lactating and I don’t care.” We still do it, just as he did, every week.
I assume you’re asking advice on this? Either that, or you’re referring to me as one of those instructors and don’t feel comfortable actually talking to me about it. I could believe that, I love a good aggressively negative bit (just ask various members of Winslow.) I would have preferred to answer this directly to you as well, but Tumblr wont let me since it’s anonymous.
But, if you’re asking advice… I sincerely am sorry you feel this way! My advice would be to talk to the person or persons that you feel are being unfair/unnecessarily shitting on you. Really… just talk to them. I can almost guarantee that whoever it is is not trying to make you feel crappy, or trying to ruin improv for you. I would bet good money that they have no idea they’re having this effect on you. I can’t think of a single UCB teacher that wouldn’t want you to just pull them aside and go “Hey, this makes me feel shitty. It’s not cool. Lay off.” It might be intimidating, but I would be shocked if it didn’t affect the behavior.
I’m not entirely sure from your message, though, what form this is taking. You say cheap shots and jabs and verbal attacks… in notes on scenes? Outside of the context of a class? In general conversation? Is it someone doing an aggressive and unwelcome bit, or is it someone actively seemingly trying to insult you? Also you say you’ve always felt that way… does that mean you feel it in every class? Or just with some people? All of those things might have a different reaction. If it’s a class problem, you can talk to Johnny Meeks, the head of the training center. If it’s outside of that, then yeah, I think talk to the person. You won’t look pathetic. The WORST case scenario is that you learn for a fact that this person is a true blue asshole. And then you can write them off. But, realistically, I think it will help you be more comfortable in the long run.
I think it’s very possible, if you’re discussing specific elements of the movie. The 12 year production of it doesn’t need to impact the discussion of the acting or the cinematography etc, etc.
But, if you’re discussing the film as a whole, I think the context in which the film was made is crucial. The unique way it was created is as much a part of the movie as are the performances or the soundtrack, and to ignore it would be to purposefully ignore a major element of what makes the film special. It’d be like reviewing My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts without considering the way Byrne and Eno recorded it. Or talking about Spiral Jetty without considering how Smithson created it. Yes, you can purely discuss the finished product, but you’re missing something that is specific to that piece of art, that is also necessary to understand it. The way in which the work was made is part of the whole, so if you’re going to judge/discuss the whole, you have to consider that part.
Also, I have no idea why someone asked me this. But I’m MORE than happy to talk about it! Cuz I loved the hell out of Boyhood.