Wil and Kevin are improv/sketch people. We are teachers and performers at the UCB Theatres in NYC and LA (http://www.ucbtheatre.com). We have been doing stuff there forever! Specifically: since 2000. We improvise, we teach improv, we write sketch, we do sketch. We know kind of famous people. We think about comedy and how to do and teach it. And we are direct blood brothers, which is interesting.

Will has an improv blog here: http://improvnonsense.tumblr.com

Will and Kevin did a sketch show recently: https://vimeo.com/album/2660022

Will is threatening to write a book, also.

Proof: https://twitter.com/willhines/status/423547144419565568

**** Hey this was fun! We are taking off now (4:30pm ET) but thanks for all the questions! We tried to answer as many as we could as fast as we could! ****

Comments: 344 • Responses: 103  • Date: 

chrisgethard27 karma

What issue of the Amazing Spider-Man is the most pivotal in the series? Please both of you answer this and also defend your answers against the other's opinions of your answer.

_Hines9 karma

Gwen Stacy's death. One of the rare comic book deaths that wasn't undone. Added a level of devastation to the character that few other major superheroes have. Has not been forgetting in successive generations. Showed that Marvel had guts to do something dark at a time when it was risking plateauing. -Will p.s. hello chris. sorry there's no multiple man in that issue.

_Hines8 karma

gwen was boring. - Kevin

_Hines2 karma

Gwen was not boring! But even if she was, the death of a major character was a big deal. Tell me another story from 1973 that people still talk about in Marvel continuity!

Issue #33 is one of the all time great issues of Spider-Man but I'm not sure it's important. I'm not sure it added anything that wasn't there already, even if it was done so well.

I think the introduction of Venom might be one of the most important things for Spider-Man's story, one of the rare post-Ditko great villains.

_Hines3 karma

Gwen was smart and pretty and like Peter from moment one. Too perfect! The ONLY thing interesting about her was her death. Her Dad was more interesting because he was a father figure for a guy with no dad, and he maybe knew he was Spider-Man.

I think #33 was the first time it truly seemed hard for Spider-Man. What earlier story did he really feel pushed to the limit. If not pivotal for the character it was pivotal for the tone.

_Hines2 karma

I agree that #33 is an amazing issue. Once people know that it was essentially Steve Ditko's close to the series you can see how great and epic it is. But I don't think it's had the impact fans would wish. It's like when you realize taht as great as Monty Python was, they probably didn't influence american comedy as much as early SNL, not even close.

_Hines3 karma

Amazing Spider-Man #33 - Shit got real. Doc Ock was scared. Spider-Man wasn't going to lose and let his Aunt May die. Will is going to agree with this, so I don't think I'll need to defend it more than that. - Kevin

yincrash14 karma

How are your cats doing in LA?

_Hines12 karma

To me delight and embarrassment, they made the trip pretty easily. -Will

jmchao8 karma

How important is owning cats to one's growth as an improviser?

_Hines7 karma

caring about animals shows empathy. A good performer can at least fake empathy. Adopt a cat! or dog! - Kevin

UnCommonBackrub10 karma

Todd Bieber wants to know if you'll kiss for us.

_Hines7 karma

We are on different coasts. And we are brothers. What is wrong with Todd that he wants us to destroy both familial and spatial constants like that? He's a pervert! A reality hating pervert! -Kevin

_Hines4 karma

This is Will. We are on opposite coasts of the country. I'm in LA and he's in NYC. But yes.

inigojones9 karma

Why is the Harold important? Please give your improv nerdiest answer.

_Hines13 karma

First, it's the hardest. It's got an opening and required second beats and required callbacks. Those are the hardest things to do and by forcing you to do them you will become unbeatable. Second beats and callbacks are especially useful in almost any form -- but improvisers won't do them (At first) unless "forced" so it's good to do a form that forces you.

Second, it's part of the culture! Amy Poehler did Harolds and so are you.

_Hines12 karma

Harolds force you to be GOOD. If your scene is weak you don't want to revisit it, but Harold says you have to. If you are good at finding ideas/games in a non-scenic opening you really understand that idea/game. If you have good scenes the Harold encourages your show to build and come together. Some Non Harold forms do some or all of these. But The Harold isn't forgiving. Once you've learned the Harold it seeps into all other forms and for good reason.

youranalogbuddy8 karma

how much would you pay for comprehensive deep stat tracking for long form improv shows? That is to say, basic stats like edits, blackout lines, gifts given, scenes initiated etc as well as more complex sabermetrics style analytics (GMORP - game moves over replacement player, ELA+ - earned laughs average adjusted for theater). home cooking will always exist in the same manner as with scoring errors vs hits, but the goal would be to strive towards objectivity. This would be for individuals, teams, particular rotations of players, etc.

_Hines7 karma

I'd be super into this, Dan, but few people would and those who would don't need more shit like this. We need friends and light and second drafts. -Will

inigojones7 karma

Will, what's going to happen to the UCB Long-Form Conversations podcast now that you're in LA?

Also, I'd love it if you asked people what they did for day jobs on that podcast. From the outside, there's a perception that everybody just does improv all day.

_Hines4 karma

People are fascinated with day jobs and making money! It's maybe the most asked thing I hear? How to make money? Do you have jobs? The current system of having to work for a living is more compelling than improv!

I believe John Frusciante is gonna keep the podcast going, yep. -Will

UnCommonBackrub6 karma

What are the challenges of running an improv school the size of the UCB Training Center? Also, which comic books best represent current Harold teams?

_Hines8 karma

Correctly vetting the talent is the hardest part.

I don't know current harold teams or comic books!-Will

inigojones6 karma

What are practical moves a committed team can make to improve their chances of success? An example of a practical move: practice once a week.

_Hines7 karma

This is Will. Practice 3 hours a week with a committed coach. Do shows and have your coach there. Try simple forms. Pick a specific goal and ask your coach if you hit it. See shows.

_Hines3 karma

In addition to what Will said I'd recommend doing more shows. Find indie venues or start your own monthly run somewhere. Put your all in to that show too. Sober, non-fuck arounds. That's what Mother did. That's what Reuben Williams did. That's what Mailer Daemon and fwand did. I think you benefit from working so much. -Kevin

mmmm_whatchasay6 karma

I hear that the vending machine at the Training Center is super shitty, and that there's no serious talk about getting a new vending machine for the new Training Center.

What's up with that?

_Hines11 karma

You shouldn't eat out of a vending machine. Pack carrot sticks and yogurt cups. Avoid cookies and kit kats you pig! - Kevin

_Hines10 karma

There is a curse on UCB-NY that no machines are allowed to work. Only Soviet-level functionality can occur. Wi=fi is slow, vending machine is broken, air conditioning is hilarious. - Will

ApeWithBone6 karma

What do you guys consider to be a good initiation off of a one word suggestion? No opening.

_Hines7 karma

Something that sees the suggestion as an offer and accepts that offer. If someone says a celebrity --- you don't have to do a celebrity impersonation but you should speak to what you believe if the significance of that celebrity. If someone said Tom Cruise I wouldn't do an impersonation of tom cruise but i might do something abotu a guy who is always being asked if he's gay, or about someone who belongs to a religion that lots of pepole don't like? Or I might be an action star. I dunno. -Will

ApeWithBone3 karma

How much of my base reality should I get out in my first line? I hear in UCB lloyd/harold auditions they want you to find the game fast, should I try to have a game by the third line?

EDIT: Also thanks for answering my initial question!!

_Hines6 karma

As much as you can without over-working. Don't drop a paragraph. Don't speak awkwardly and force it in. So, like I said - one piece a line is plenty.

You should be able to find a game by line 3-5 once you've been doing this a while, but you should never have to force it. It should grow out of your Yes ands. - Kevin

_Hines5 karma

I like keeping it simple. One piece of information. Generally a who, what or where. I prefer to define what I (and my scene partner) are doing because it implies who and where and gets me started. But any piece of info gives my scene partner something to build off of. You'll have something soon if you keep building. -Kevin

King_of_all_Dorks5 karma

What's your favorite Harold opening?

_Hines5 karma

I like scene painting because I get to talk a bunch. - Will

_Hines3 karma

I like Pattern Game. But that's probably because I so rarely have gotten to do it. It's pure and simple and the games are strong. But I had the most fun doing organic openings with fwand.

danielsan17015 karma

As big-city improvisers who've performed & taught improv a bunch outside of those cities, do you have any recommendations to help foster/bolster/foment/advance an existing, growing improv community & improv talent in a mid-sized New England city that's like, but is not necessarily, Hartford, CT?

_Hines6 karma

Is this a SeaTea person? YOu guys are figuring it out great! You're making an improv scene in one of the most famously boring states in the union! YOU'RE DOING IT! -Will

chooter5 karma

Who are some of your fave comedians?

What's the best UCB show i should see in New York?

_Hines13 karma

This is Will answering this. I was born in 1970 so I like all the big stand-ups of the 1970s: Carlin, Steve Martin, Cosby, Pryor. Woody Allen writes the best jokes. Late 80s SNL writers write the best sketches (the Army Man guys and Robert Smigel).

The best UCB show in NY (besides my improv team The Stepfathers) is Sketches From An Italian Restaurant: A Billy Joel Sketch Show which is super fun. Also whatever weird monstrosity Terry Withers is doing.

_Hines6 karma

I grew up loving Steve Martin and Monty Python. Now I, like so many, can't get enough of Louis CK. But you know what? When, I laugh the most when I see Bill Cosby on Jimmy Fallon's show. He's still got it. I loved Seveteen Seventy Something. A musical about the birth of America as told by the Tea Party.

grillpar4 karma

Hey!

I'm not a New York comedy person, but I definitely feel like UCB particularly has set the comic tone out there for the last several years, what with your people going on to do pretty influential things.

Do you feel like the fact that there is a "path" for comedians to take has hurt the ability of really original people to come up? Like if they don't fit the right style to rise through UCB they won't really have that shot at larger fame and fortune? (Not to say UCB hasn't brought up some pretty original people).

Do you consider the philosophy of the UCB to be a set of "best practices" or a rule book for how to be good at being funny?

_Hines5 karma

Does the existence of a "path" hurt the ability of original people: I think about this a lot. Does having a SYSTEM stop ORIGINAL people. It's probably a balance. A system lets people find their voice until their strong enough to make it just on their talents. But it can also stifle people who are unable to follow rules at all. I think UCB makes an honest attempt to nurture interesting oddballs so hopefully we're getting the best of both.

The book is a best practices book and does not give much advice on being funny. It's great though, and I recommend it if you're not in an improv city! -Will

CraigTheEgg4 karma

Hey, this is for Will Hines. In an improv scene, is it better/funnier to walk in as a waiter and ask for drink orders, or to ask if the couple at the restaurant wants to hear the specials?

_Hines5 karma

Great question, Craig. -Will

cowblade3 karma

When I hear about the old ali farahnakian days of UCB, I picture the 2000-2005 era as basically a 5 year long continuous DCM. Part of that is nostalgia, but do you think the UCB's weirdness has gotten gentrified in any meaningful way?

_Hines3 karma

I'm suspicious of such nostalgia, though I'm certainly responsible for propogating it. I think that there were shows and times that were magical in a way that can only happen in a smaller community. I remember DCM 2 where tiny and rachel did a bunch of stuff for like an hour at 3am between Friday and Saturday. Or the two man set Ian and Ali did for a few weeks. But there were also way more bad shows and everything was more amateur in general. And it was meaner, maybe. You were very on your own. Had to tough out being cool enough to be asked to do stuff. I think there's a trade-off with size. -Will

xcrowdedrooms3 karma

Will, tell us about this book.

_Hines6 karma

This is Will. I've tried like 6 times to write a book and they're all a mess. Some too pretentious. Some too vague. Some too redundant. But I'll figure it out. It'll be small, I think. Since the best stuff has already been said.

CaptainRoger3 karma

Who wins in a fight - Charna Halpern or the UCB founders? Twist - Charna gets to use her dogs.

mmmm_whatchasay9 karma

Conner O'Malley

averymonsen10 karma

Hell yeah, pimp.

_Hines5 karma

for real. conner would win. but it would be bad for everyone when he did. I AM GUNS GOD IS MY BROTHER. -Will

improvguywebsite3 karma

What's the most sex you've seen someone have onstage during an improv show?

_Hines3 karma

I believe I saw Birch HArms and Bobby Moynihan do a pretty full simulation of intercourse in an old Couples Skate show, until Bobby's character got stuck in Birch's mimed zipper? - Will

ZidDigs3 karma

What would be a good exercise to help me stop taking the back seat in scenes and start actually making some game moves?

_Hines2 karma

Something where the other person can only yes and not and. -Will

ZidDigs3 karma

When was the last time you did something a ghost couldn't do?

_Hines3 karma

Can a ghost shower? - Kevin

sonicdork3 karma

Who are some improvisers that inspired you and do they still?

_Hines4 karma

Lots inspire me. ALl the time I see things that amaze me. Betsy Sodaro is magic. Aaron Jackson can do no wrong. Neil Casey makes everything better. Anthony Atamanuik is always always exciting. Sue Galloway surprises me every time. -Will

_Hines3 karma

I forgot Laura Willcox. I think she's another one who always does what the scene needs. That ability really impresses me.

_Hines3 karma

Early on it was the big guns: Ian Roberts. Micheal Delaney. Jason Manzoukas. And everytime I see them they show me something new. Later on it was playing with people like: Jon Gabrus. Shannon O Neil. Charlie Todd. Everytime I step back and look at them I see how good, they are and I steal and learn from them. -Kevin

TheReceivers2 karma

Hey guys. Taking UCB classes as we speak. How important do you find web sketches can be? They can be expensive to make, are they worth it? If a video goes viral, does that easily lend into writing jobs? Or is that a flawed route to try for? Also, I would be remiss if I didn't share a link to a video myself and a writing partner created parodying gangsta rap (why not shill?):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hrKmltm89I

_Hines2 karma

MAking them? Very crucial. -Will

seabass1772 karma

Is there a man alive that plays a woman better than Neil Casey?

_Hines3 karma

Neil is terrific but for my money Michael Delaney is the best actor in the UCB-NY community. -Will

rockamole2 karma

Was there ever any sibling rivalry between you guys? Basically, who was the first to get into comedy, and who's riding off his coattails?

_Hines2 karma

Will was first. I followed him. The rivalry is that Will is better and I am stuck in his shadow, but most of that might build out of growing up a middle child and those insecurities. - Kevin

ooberboober2 karma

What are some of your favorite group improv exercises and warmups?

Also come do a workshop/show in Charleston, SC some time!

_Hines2 karma

I enjoy just doing a sound and movement with a smart group. It becomes it's own thing and it's always fun and surprising. I like that more than rule based warmups. - Kevin

scarpe2 karma

Why aren't all comic books as good as Saga?

_Hines3 karma

I just started reading it today! -Will

_Hines3 karma

There aren't that many writers as good as Vaughn and artists as fresh as Staples. - Kevin

avidguy842 karma

How do you handle teammates who don't seem to communicate or want to book shows? Specific, I know, but I'm having this problem. What if you're the only one who seems to care?

_Hines2 karma

This is tough. One, make sure that you're not confusing "caring" with "doing it the way you want." Maybe people are caring, but about different aspects of the project? I say that because I've been on the other end of someone telling me I didn't care enough when really, I just didn't care about what they wanted me to care about. It's different. If that's the case, you need to have talk about the group's priorities.

BUT -- if no one else will help with the work, then that is a drag and I sympathize. Keep an eye out for other people/groups but in the meantime do the work and know that you will be rewarded by the improv gods somehow. -Will

mbs492 karma

do you have a good exercise for a group working on a monoscene that was having trouble ramping up their set and finishing strong?

also a good exercise for getting people to accept offers that they're naturally inclined to defend because in real life they'd be mean (e.g. you're always late)?

_Hines2 karma

Sounds like you're trying to coach the group from within. Are you? DOn't do that. Get a coach who's good and do what he/she says.

Ramping up sets: try to introduce a mandatory confession from the main characters at the mid-point.

Accepting offers: don't make offers that are mean because of real life stuff.-Will

Sandrino12 karma

In what ways has your relationship with your brother evolved through your shared experiences on stage improvising and has this provided any revelatory experiences on your brotherhood?

_Hines2 karma

I think we're closer and it's great. -Will

_Hines2 karma

We are definitely closer. Will went to college, then I did and while we talked we weren't as close as we are now. But we have spent 13 plus years immersed in the same world. I am not sure how much doing a show has changed that other then it forced us to spend time together every week. - Kevin

hot_sandwiches2 karma

[deleted]

_Hines2 karma

I usually just teach what I teach. Now and then I'll have individual advice. -Will

_Hines2 karma

I try to point out trends. You do this a lot or you never do this. Whether good or bad it can help focus you into finding new strengths and or fix weaknesses. A great improviser has to learn to take all their notes and guide themselves to some degree. All a coach or teacher can do is give a push. Good teachers can push you ahead, a bad teacher I'd guess could slow you down. - Kevin

TheBroox2 karma

Could you beat Gethard in a fight? He seems scrappy.

_Hines3 karma

If I was full mad, I'd win. Otherwise he'd probably win if only because i couldn't commit to it. -Will

mmmm_whatchasay2 karma

Why is Kevin's beard getting so big?

My money's on he's hiding something.

_Hines4 karma

Combination fear and arrogance. -Will

_Hines4 karma

I am hiding my fat face.

brenswen2 karma

What is your best one-liner?

_Hines13 karma

I once walked on to say that an octopus had committed suicide and left 8 notes. Probably the dumbest thing I ever said and I am also very proud of it. - Will

_Hines10 karma

I once was a child with cancer who said that my parents told me "an angel kissed me too hard" - Kevin

_Hines2 karma

I remember that! -Will

CaptainRoger2 karma

Besides Chicago, NY and LA, what city do you think is the best improv city (both content and talent incubation)? Any cities on the rise?

_Hines7 karma

I don't travel much but my hunch is either Austin, Boston or North Carolina.

But it only takes one good group to make a really interesting scene. So I bet Montreal, Seattle, Pittsburgh and lots of places have good stuff. -Will

King_of_all_Dorks3 karma

Philadelphia!

_Hines2 karma

Yes, Philly. Sorry. Also DC! I mean, there's lots. -Will

ObliviousTom2 karma

Do you guys ever do improv?

_Hines4 karma

Nope! -Will

LilImprovCutie2 karma

Are there any plans to change the UCB curriculum to address the rapidly growing student body's needs?

_Hines2 karma

That's vague. We change the curriculum every year. It's pretty solid right now, so it's often tweaking and slight modifying. This year we are attacking second beats earlier in 201 to hopefully help our students have a better handle on game and second beats by the end of class - Kevin

lilkait2 karma

How often do you meet students who actually have a shot at doing improv as a career?

_Hines4 karma

No one does it as a career. You can teach it as a career. Do you mean be a fixture at a theatre as an unpaid member of a house team? Maybe once a year. -Will

tyang2092 karma

You guys are great! Two questions!

  1. What was the intro song to the Monkeydick show at DCM this year?
  2. Will, you always say that you are always the straight man in an improv scene. Do you have any advice on how to be good straight-man in scene? How do you play it without feeling like you're holding the scene back or feel like you're arguing?
  3. Are you guys both in L.A? How would you compare the LA vs NYC improv scene?

_Hines3 karma

  1. Dirty Deeds Done Dirty Cheap. We waited until it was totally done before starting.
  2. I like being the straight man. I think the key is to be curious and invested and affected no matter what. And play with improv geniuses so they can make it good.
  3. I moved to LA and I"ve been here not a week. Kevin was here for 1 day. Neither of us know anything about it yet. It's beautiful today, though! I'm outside at the Mustard Seed Cafe. -Will

yuppityup2 karma

Who is on your top 5 for all time comedians?

_Hines4 karma

steve martin, woody allen, jack handy, tina fey, garry shandling

and albert brooks and richard pryor

and mitch hedberg

_Hines2 karma

Without giving it much thought: Steve Martin Bill Cosby Richard Pryor Louis CK Chris Rock -Kevin

shortmikeshort2 karma

What is something else besides improv you're deeply passionate about that you would also like to talk about?

_Hines5 karma

I read a lot of comic books and am a Red Sox fan and take lots of photos of my cat, Parker. - Kevin

admittedlynerdy2 karma

What's the biggest innovation to form you've seen happen in the long form world since you started doing improv?

_Hines6 karma

Hmm. It seems to speed up. People get better at initiating strong ideas and so stuff goes quickly. Innovation: lots of interview openings these days; I think those should go away. -Will

jdtaormi2 karma

I've been watching a lot of improv videos on YouTube, including The Brothers Hines, and they're really entertaining. Have you guys had any ideas to bring long form improv to television? It's been tried a few times but never seems to work.

_Hines3 karma

CIpha SOunds is gonna make this happen. -Will

_Hines2 karma

I think the handful of videos of live improv on UCBComedy.com came out really well! I think it could work, though it's still taking a live theater show and filming it. And even great broadway shows on tape don't do as well as something that is re-written and edited and directed for the screen. - Kevin

rubixcubicle2 karma

Will, I really like your rule against naming someone "Jenkins" in a scene. Any new improv trope realizations like that recently?

_Hines5 karma

Don't high five in an improv scene. -Will

xcrowdedrooms2 karma

If each member of the Stepfathers was a movie, what movie would they be?

_Hines2 karma

Delaney: The Landlord Silvija: Mr. Pulot's Holiday, or whatever that is Spo: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 Chris: A Room With A View. I'm kidding! Jackass 2. Connor: Great Muppet Caper, deleted scenes Jordan: Odd Couple 2 Don: Analyze That -Will

jeffislearning2 karma

How different is an improv class versus a sketch writing class? Would you be able to learn sketch writing intuitively thru improv? Thanks gurus of comedy

_Hines2 karma

They overlap at UCB because they both deal with game. In improv you are writing, acting, directing the scene in the moment. There are things (Mistakes?) that work in improv that would not work in sketch. Sketch is about re-writing, and polishing, and making it better. Improv its about being as good as possible as soon as possible. That's one difference anyway. -Kevin

ZidDigs2 karma

Will, you've had your own sketch show right? What would be some advice you would give to someone about how to create successful sketches? Is it better to hammer away at one idea until it sticks or write a thousand ideas hoping one can turn into gold?

_Hines2 karma

Sketch: keep it simple. A sketch is a like a joke, not a story. Embrace patterns. INdulge something you would be excited to do, be it silence or darkness (content wise) or verbosity or silliness. -Will

Rowsdower922 karma

What do you guys feel is the most common misstep performers make in improv that could easily be fixed?

_Hines10 karma

Rushing the second line. The initiation usually has something to be processed and unpacked and the person responding feels too much pressure to add something. You could do a lot by requiring the second line have very little ANDing --- just confirm what you heard. -Will

yincrash2 karma

Are you guys ever competitive with each other over anything? If so, what?

_Hines4 karma

We probably are in some way but I don't feel it. We get along well. Our mom died when we were young and it was rough and it made all three Hines boys (there is a non-UCB Hines) bind together and we like being friends.

I guess we get competitive over who's best at Celebrity? -Will

_Hines6 karma

Will is better at celebrity. - Kevin

Onion9202 karma

Two questions for you guys...

Hey Will, Sorry I wasn't able to get your spitemag e-mail working back in '99. You didn't pay the invoice that guy sent out, right?

Kevin, Any chance you've worked on any more "Bitter Guy" comics?

Other than that, I really just wanted to congratulate you two on your success.

_Hines2 karma

I did write more, but they are lost in the pile of unpublished doodles i have everywhere. No one should know what you are talking about. - Kevin

_Hines1 karma

Hi Onion! No worries on that email. -Will

Reingding132 karma

It seems that almost all who participate in 401 are accepted into Advanced Study at the theater which in turn dilutes the quality of the classes. Is there ever any discussion about making it more difficult to be approved for advanced study classes?

When you get to the level that both of you are at, how important is chemistry? Could you put on a dynamite show with any experienced improviser?

_Hines6 karma

We definitely don't accept everyone. As the Academic Supervisor in NY I deal with broken hearted emails from people who didn't get in every day. We waver on getting stricter and having people get angry and stuck in 401 and taking it over and over again - diluting that level and keeping it as is where some Adv Class don't feel Advanced Enough. But you know where I learned the most? After my classes, I joined groups of my peers and we challenged ourselves with a dedicated coach. If you find the classes aren't challenging you - then you take the time and challenge yourself. 2. Chemistry is important. But good shows lead to good chemistry. When things work you like those around you. But AVOID judging your teammates. Once you start thinking someone isn't good, or that you don't like how they play it shows and spreads and hurts the team.

-Kevin

_Hines3 karma

  1. I don't agree everyone is accepted. Do you have data? But the issue of how to manage the advanced level is a tough one and Kevin and the LA school head Johnny Meeks are going to focus on it this year.

  2. Chemistry matters less as you get better. YOu know how to get to where you need to get to regardless of what you're given. But it always helps. -Will

Beverage_2 karma

It always seems to me (no data, could be wrong) that the "in" crowd --popular house teams, recurring shows, etc...-- at bigger name theatres like UCB and similar are often those who have tried to make a life out of acting and writing and don't really have outside jobs / work. What would you say to that? I'm often told "don't pursue comedy, you don't succeed" yet success in a theatre seems (again, no data) to be just that.

Also: I saw you guys do a Cage Match when my college troupe drove up to visit UCB like ... three years ago. It was mind blowing, you guys are amazing and a huge inspiration to my troupe back home. Thanks for doing this AMA!

_Hines3 karma

you mean don't have day jobs? yeah, the main people quit their day jobs. it's an exciting but daunting decision which you'll know if/when it's time to do. and thanks! -Will

_Hines2 karma

I think what people mean is, be ready for lots and lots of rejection. Way more then you want. If you go into comedy expecting it to be easy you're in for a shock. So follow that dream, but it's hard work and there are lots of people trying and there aren't that many jobs. But to get good you need to put a lot of time in to this. So it's hard to do that and have a different career. At some point people have to choose... is this a hobby? Or their life? - Kevin

yincrash2 karma

If I haven't been doing any improv for at least a couple of years now, but would like to ease back in to, would you recommend retaking an early class or joining a practice group or some third option here?

_Hines2 karma

Take a class. Doesn't have to be early. -Will

_Hines2 karma

Depends on how many years. Forming a practice group is hard if you don't have people to do that with. At UCB we will recommend a level to return to, generally our 201 level. You'll remember the basics, but 201 is where we get serious and form the foundation of game that all our other classes are built on. So I'd say take a few classes, meet folks then form a practice group that runs alongside classes.

  • Kevin

mmmm_whatchasay2 karma

Brandon Gulya still isn't teaching his students to confirm the button.

This is less of a question and more of a concern.

_Hines2 karma

I'll talk to him about this. -Will

shwng2 karma

How often do you write every week? I'm trying to get a gauge on how much I should be writing.

Advice to a beginner sketch writer?

Which has more comedic potential, borscht in the butt or cooked yams in the butt?

_Hines2 karma

You should write every day. I don't and I know that's the place I need to work harder. - Kevin

stillnotclever2 karma

What is your ideal sandwich?

_Hines2 karma

Avacado, veggie bacon, multigrain -- that kinda bs. -Will

warwickmumphrey2 karma

Heyo Will man y u been hidin? heard u made da trip out so I had Trey-P buy all kines a bottles a shit n but ened up havin to drink em ouselves - Trey-P in a coma now. Plus i got dem komodo's chillin in my spot, when u think u can pick em up? Parently things change since our Myami dayz.

_Hines3 karma

Hello Warwick. Yes, I've been busy. We gotta hang out. That's my bad. -Will

jose6022 karma

Obviously, UCB does well in bringing in audiences now. Can you talk about the point of transition where things went from shows where there might be a small audience (or no audience) to being able to count on some kind of steady stream of audience members? What do you remember about UCB making it over that hill, so to speak?

_Hines3 karma

I'd like to ask Besser this, actually! Or Anthony King. To me, there were always enough people. By the time I was "up" enough to really think about it, things were solid. -Will

RemyDWD1 karma

Top 5 all time favorite Channel 102 shows? (Please note that Channel 101 NY shows are ineligible from this consideration.)

_Hines2 karma

oooh! I love it! Very much off the top of my head: Gemberling Sexual Intercourse AMerican Style The Outer Limit The Widower Jesus Christ Supercop

Wait! And Puppet Rapist! And Teen HOmicide! I dunno. Lots. -Will

magomra1 karma

I hear the team Blyleven is looking to get a show. Any advice for booking shows in New York?

_Hines2 karma

I'm sorry, but I don't know that team. Where are they coming from? - Kevin

_Hines2 karma

I put this team together. Do they want more shows? -Will

mightyhippo201 karma

Who is your favorite Harold team of all time?

_Hines5 karma

The Swarm is the best improv team I have ever seen. When they were active and practicing they did amazing Harolds. One of the few teams I've seen that could reliably start slow but end big and huge in almost every scene.

honorable mention to fwand for being so insand that they would break their harolds with dumbness and then always bring it back to greatness. -Will

_Hines3 karma

Swarm is the easiest answer. They were so good and so simple. They embraces silence so well. But when Mother got good they seemed to do the most complete, strong Harolds. Other greats: Creep, Respecto Montalbon, and Dillinger/Shoves -Kevin

danielsan17011 karma

I'm primarily an improviser, and I'm about to perform in my second-ever sketch show. I have no other theater background or experience. I'm finding that I have a lot of anxiety about remembering lines & cues, since I'm so used to listening & reacting spontaneously. Do you have any tips for experienced improvisers turned amateur sketch actors regarding lines & memorization?

_Hines3 karma

I have gotten better at memorization. I for a short while filmed introductions for EPIX films and had to memorize a lot in a short time. All monologues. So I got good and just running them over and over until it got easier. Not really an answer, just I feel your pain! and it gets easier! - Kevin

_Hines3 karma

WHen I have a sketch, I record all the other parts into a voice memo in my iphone ,leaving silences for my lines. Then I play it back and try to say my lines. That helps me quickly. -Will

hbktommy40311 karma

I feel like an asshole for asking this. But do you have any tips on how to start making money in improv, sketch, and comedy in general?

_Hines2 karma

Teach it, that's the most reliable way. Or Coach it. I think that's it! Or be talented enough that people will pay just to watch you. -Will

billwaunders1 karma

You mentioned, using improv as a stepping stone to writing/acting? Could you elaborate, or offer any advice on that subject? That's what I'm trying to do! BTW, this is Will the intern from the LA theatre!

_Hines2 karma

Hi Will. Thanks for helping Kevin and I with photos the other day. I'm not sure but trying to figure it out. So far I've: done stuff I liked with people I liked and tried to be appreciative and excited and also spend time watching other people's stuff. -Will

_Hines2 karma

Step 1) Take pictures of people who show up at the theater. 2) improv helps you understand what's funny and how to communicate that to an audience. So it fine tunes your comedy sense and your comedic voice. To get good at it you need to become a better actor. So it works a lot of muscles. I am not sure how to get work (as I am still not working in the industry) but you need more then improv. Use the skills that improv honed and focus them on something else. Acting or writing most likely. Make sketch shows or videos or act in plays. Work a lot! -Kevin

mersh2011 karma

whats makes someone good at improv?

_Hines6 karma

Empathy, irony, neediness. -Will

danimal531 karma

I am going to pursue a career in improv and sketch, and I was wondering if you knew of any internships or places that a performer can get experience with sketch and improv while still in college?

_Hines5 karma

HOly jesus don't do it. There is no "career" except teaching other people to do it. Get a career in writing for tv/movies or acting or directing maybe maybe maybe doing stand-up. Do improv/sketch as a path to these other things. - Will

_Hines1 karma

I didn't do comedy in college, but I wish I did. Some colleges have stages and venues and those that don't have common areas and everyone has youtube. Find people to work with and CREATE! Colleges give you opportunities to do stuff. Take it. I can't speak for other schools. But UCB offers intensives. If you are in NY or LA for the summer you can take our 101 class in a week and our 201 class in a week. That's something! - Kevin

anti-inverse1 karma

How did Kevin "shower wrong" today?

_Hines2 karma

I showered in a different order then usual and I think I ended up washing dirty water on to already cleaned body parts. I don't think I ever learned how to shower properly.

_Hines1 karma

This is Will. He took forever, I bet!