Observational Comedy Illustration

Here’s the artwork I created for the cover of this years Last Laugh Sheffield Comedy festival, being held up by the very funny Phil Jupitus  who asked why the acts had no eyes…

I was about to tweet back with an answer when I realised I didn’t have one. Why did I draw all the acts with no eyes?  After tracing it back to 2012, or thereabouts. I remember took over from another artist on the festival who drew everyone with no eyes, so I was just continuing on the tradition.

Festival acts banner from 2012

It still didn’t feel like an excuse, so even though it’s not on the brochure I thought I’d oblige…

Can you guess who is who?

Series 2 Summary | Question and create

In this episode I recap what I’ve called  ‘series 2’. The last eight interviews with some great people who use applied improvisation (improv, impro…that particular way of thinking and responding, and using mental agility). Beginning with Paul Z. Jackson and culminating  with Pam Victor. There’s a wealth of information to be had, on a load of different topics, and I thank all the wonderful guests who gave their time.

Bring a Brick series 3 will be coming soon,  after a short spring break.

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  • Paul Z. Jackson is one of the founders of Applied Improvisation Network, we talked about his work and digressed on the topic of improvisation on television.
  • Mary T. Curtis works in behavioural health, coaching people with issues such as stress and anxiety and the YES AND, accepting and building in therapy.
  • Neil Mullarkey didn’t need any introduction. We chatted about the business of improv,  story structure, character comedy and how to bring improv into a training session by giving examples. Loads in this one.
  • Adam St John Lawrence is a Customer experience consultant, who uses improv to generate ideas, break them and get better questions. Loads of great content here about understanding the world you’re selling to.
  • Dan Starkey is an actor appearing in television series such as Doctor Who, and insode No.9. We chat about how a foundation of improv can help an actor approach a role.
  • Cathy Salit is CEO of Performance of a Lifetime. Among the many thinks we talk about, Cathy explains her view on ‘performative psychology’ and how everything we do – our life –  can be seen as a performance.
  • Paul Goddard is a coach in agile development and certified Scrum trainer. We touch on the geographical differences in recognition of improv in the US and UK and how improvisation can be applied to agile development
  • Finally I interviewed Pam Victor on her ‘Zen of Improv’. Her mission it is to make the world a happier place through improv.

Links to All episodes

Bullet points:

Direct Link

Pam Victor | The Zen of Improv

Pam is the founder of Happier Valley Comedy whose mission it is to make the world a happier place through improv. She’s co-author of “Improvisation at the Speed of Life“, with Chicago’s TJ & Dave and uses improv to teach personal and professional growth.

She has her own podcast, Conversations with Funny Feminists. We chat about honesty and authenticity in improv, facts versus belief and using improv for personal development to overcome fears and increase learning opportunities.

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Bullet Points

  • The Zen of Improv
  • TJ and Dave.
  • Honesty and authenticity
  • Improv for personal growth
  • “I suck”. The evil mind meanie – The voice of unhelpful judgement.
  • Beliefs vs Facts
  • Susan Messing
  • Annoyance Theatre
  • IO
  • “You can’t be brave and not be scared”
  • Big Booty, cheering when someone fails, redefining failure as learning.
  • ‘Can I make a living doing what I love’
  • Conversations with funny feminist’s – ‘Bitches get stuff done’.

Links:
Happier Valley Comedy | Pam Victor on Linkedin

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Paul Goddard | Improv in Agile development

Paul is a coach in agile development and certified Scrum trainer. He’s the founder of training company agilify and his book ‘Improving Teams’ brings together his work in agile and improv theatre, highlighting the overlaps and connections between the two.

In conversation we talk about the cost of change in the workplace and how similarities in agile and improv allow for efficiency in fields like software development. How adapting is as much about a given project as it is the people involved, and introducing improv for learning. We also touch on the geographical differences in recognition of improv in the US and UK for the  approach agile and improv use to introduce game play as a tool.

“Scrum master”. Number 8 in the 10 weirdest job titles in the UK.

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Paul’s book on Amazon: Improv-ing Agile Teams: Using Constraints To Unlock Creativity

Bullet Points

  • An overview of Agile and Scrum.
  • The agile manifesto.
  • Scrum coaching.
  • Traditional software development vs agile.
  • Technology, culture and the dilemma of linear planning.
  • Seeing what you don’t want, to find out what you do.
  • Making the cost of change lower.
  • The comedy store players / Neil Mullarkey.
  • Connecting improv and agile.
  • Keith Johnstone.
  • Agile conference 2012.
  • suffer fromt he same legacy agile and improv.
  • Being open to learning and client rapport.
  • Fear of failure in computer science.
  • There is one truth, one outcome.
  • Preparing for change, adapting personally and professionally.
  • Slowing down to reflecting on a process and make improvements.
  • Scrum masters, putting games in timeboxes.
  • Scrum master – The 10 weirdest job titles in the UK – The Independent.
  • Relating back to the personal – Paul’s book examples.
  • Storytelling and the agile product owner.
  • Good companies have compelling narratives.
  • The Applied Improvisation Network.
  • US vs UK, Regular improv and agile approaches are built into the fabric of large tech companies. 10 years.
  • The sprint retrospective
  • Working with a group and creating in a safe environment for gameplay
  • Inspiring others through improv practices
  • Pixar, agile and storytelling.

 

Links:
www.agilify.co.uk | Paul on Linkedin

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Cathy Salit | Performance of a lifetime

Cathy Salit | Performance of a lifetimeCathy Salit is CEO of Performance of a Lifetime. She has delivered hundreds of keynote speeches on how using performance in everyday life helps with growth and productivity.

She’s the author of Performance Breakthrough’ A radical approach to success at work.

In conversation with Cathy we chat about her work at POAL, and how treating life as a great performance can be a strong catalyst for growth and change. How her company has developed over time using performance, improvisation and psychology  to create a safe ‘playground’ and lead to a diverse range of projects including working with inner city ‘cops and kids’ to to improving the doctor/patient relationship.

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Links: Performance of a lifetime | Cathy on Linkedin |  Performance Breakthrough

Bullet Points;

  • The human side of business strategy
  • Performative psychology
  • Who we are becoming; tapping into the natural ability to perform from childhood
  • Choose to Grown blog
  • Cathy the Jazz singer
  • The All Stars Project – Cops and kids finding common ground
  • Elisabeth Cleaners street school
  • Art and business building together
  • Form of life –  Ludwig Wittgenstein
  • David Nackman, Fred Newman
  • Your life story in one minute
  • Devising improv for medical residents – improving  the doctor patient relationship.
  • Using improv to create a ‘playground’ to approach emotionally difficult. conversations such as doctor patient DNR (do not resusitate).
  • Stephen Nachmanovitch, Free play.
  • Emotinal intelligence…why the need to prefix “intelligence”?
  • “The Sales Whisperer” – Daniel Pink, author of To Sell is human.
  • Bringing performance to the sales pitch.
  • Our ability to change is a performance choice.
  • We need weird! Doing something new to find change.
  • The art of selling, networking and other schmoozy things.
  • Don’t worry about the sale.

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John Cooper


Rocket Steps Ltd

Comedian. Improviser. Illustrator. Trainer.