Growth, Why Sketch is Invite-Only, and How You Can Join In

I should start by pointing you to the workshops page if you haven't already noticed that Dylan Snowden will be visiting us from UCBTNY and teaching 2 sketch workshops. If you haven't gotten your chance to participate in Hive's sketch course, this is a perfect opportunity for you to get some valuable experience, and if you have, I encourage you to take in some outside influence. I am far from the last word on sketch comedy.

My last post here was over 9 months ago, in December. But at least I have an excuse. It was in January that I started my current day job. I'm building Virtual Reality experiences and I love it, but having a full time job, in addition to performing 1-3 times a week, teaching, and just doing the Hive homework to keep things chugging along can really take it out of me. Especially when my day job is something I can easily put overtime into, not just because sometimes it's necessary, but because sometimes I just want to. Lately, I've been burning at both ends and it's taking a toll. I apologize if any of you have wanted Hive to be snappier lately. Sometimes I just choose rest over a longer night and that means something's got to give. Oh yeah, and I've been working on sketches for The Weird Show, which brings me to my point.

Last year, I taught an unannounced, invite-only sketch course between the Fall and Winter sessions. It was my first time doing it and I wanted to see how it went with only the strongest students present for many reasons. That class became The Weird Show and I'm very proud of the work. I was happy enough with their show that I couldn't resist getting involved with them myself over the summer. This coming Fall, I'll be teaching the next Hive sketch course and we've got a great group.

I never liked things like "Harold Team Auditions" at UCB or iO or for the Second City Main Stage or ComedySportz. I didn't like the hand of God coming down and tampering with the chemistry of the art, the scene, or individual friendships, and necessary or not, I felt it resulted in a lot of collateral damage: destructive competition, jealousy, self-doubt, almost embracing a class system. Now I've chosen to do that exact thing with Hive Sketch by making it invite-only.

In LA, I was fortunate enough to witness first-hand the growth of The Pack Theatre and near enough to Miles, Brian, Emily, Eric, and Heather to learn a lot more than just improv and sketch, including picking up a few things about how to grow a community around our craft. Noah and I have discussed this extensively and have considered the symbiosis between CCB and Hive to be necessary to our community. What we need now is more performing talent putting up more great shows. Meeting that goal is my main concern.

I believe that building shows out of our strongest students is the best way to demonstrate our work to the public, attract more students, inspire current students, and most importantly foster the spontaneous development of new shows.

I don't want Hive to be the Hand of God, picking who will get stage time. I want students to know that if they want a stage and we're not giving it to them, they can get it themselves anywhere in the city and make something happen. That's not competition for Hive or CCB or ComedySportz, that's growing the community and it will be good for everyone involved. I realize that building shows out of invite-only courses teaches a dangerous lesson that may go against encouraging a self-reliant community, but I believe that the few students that we have time to focus on at this stage can become community leaders and will have the power to propagate the experiences they've had by starting shows themselves and that others may follow in their footsteps.

LA has a strong indie improv scene and there isn't a dependence on theatres to validate student work before students organize themselves and get to it. Chicago didn't have that in the old days and the stories of great players being managed by theatres always sounded unhealthy to me. There's a lot of growth that happens when students are expected to be leaders. I don't want to copy what's in LA because it's far from a perfect scene, but the indie presence there is something I would like to see in Berlin and I hope we're doing what we can to make it happen.

For a long time, Good Luck, Barbara! was the only game in town. Over a year ago, the formation of Guillotine was a huge step in the right direction. Then came The Weird Show. Next was Hotbox. All of those teams have killed huge crowds at CCB. The CCB jam has given a lot of new faces valuable stage-time. This Saturday we'll be wrapping up the final round of The August Offensive, our first cagematch style, competitive longform tournament. I loved the buzz around that tournament and that it got a lot of people on stage for the first time on a self-selected team. I would love to see the next Sketch course stick together too. I'm also considering skipping any teaching in the 2017 Spring session to focus on show production and to take advantage of the new talent that's available.

As I said at the top, we'll be having Dylan Snowden in to teach sketch. Sketch experience is really valuable, even if you want to stick to improv, and I hope that anyone who hasn't been invited to Hive Sketch will have the opportunity to participate in Snowden's workshop. The Beginners workshop is meant for absolutely anyone. The Intermediate workshop is meant for former and upcoming students of the sketch workshop, but also open to anyone with significant improv experience or stand-up comedians. There will be more sketch opportunities in the future so if you're got a hunger for it, just sit tight. We've got stuff in the works.

Now I need some sleep.

See ya this weekend at CCB, dudes,
Chris