Some basic improvisation knowledge: Spacework by Jayne Entwistel
The sketch presents the 90th birthday of elderly upper-class Englishwoman Miss Sophie, who hosts a celebration dinner every year for her friends Mr Pommeroy, Mr Winterbottom, Sir Toby, and Admiral von Schneider. The problem is that due to Miss Sophie’s considerable age, she has outlived all of her friends, and so her equally aged manservant James makes his way around the table, impersonating each of the guests in turn. Miss Sophie decides on appropriate drinks to accompany the menu served by James, who finds himself raising (and emptying) his glass four times per course. That takes its toll, increasingly noticeable in James’s growing difficulty in pouring the drinks, telling wine glasses from vases of flowers, and refraining from bursting into song. (source)
The crucial exchange during every course is:
James: The same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?
Miss Sophie: The same procedure as every year, James!
As CrazyWaiter it’s fun to impersonate people who are not sitting at the table. Have fun!
(met dank aan D.)
In this video Miss Italia 2009, Maria Perrusi, learns how to use space in acting. We CrazyWaiters can also use it by moving around and making use of objects while doing our work, acts or improvisation.
It’s funny to see at the end that Maria is using the whole space and sofa when she is calling to her mother instead of staying in one place.
The last sheet in English (with some comments taken from what is said)
- Be the master of the space in which you are (understand from where you’re coming, where you are and where you go)
- Being the master enables you to express yourself at the very best
- For being the master you need to be at ease
- Start being the master of the objects. Start with taking the possession of them. (this sofa is mine!)
- Once you are used to the space you can do what you wanted to do
This improvisation can also be done with real guests (or collegues), with real conversations. You “translate” what the other says by using you’re fantasy, in a real language or not. A lot of variations is possible, also depending on your own knowledge of the languages and inspiration. You can add up fun with non-verbal signs and face-expressions!
I do it also with collegues who speak Arab or Hindi in our break. Nobody understands them (included me), but I’m so kind to ‘translate’ for my colleagues. Ofcourse you use similar sounds, so when somebedy says ‘tingelingeling’, you translate it as ‘bell’ or ‘phone’.
Take care, not everybody likes to be fake-dubbed 🙂 That’s why it might be safer to do it with colleagues (warned or not warned by you) in front of the guests.
Here somebody speaks ‘Swedish’ about a Volvo and the other has to “translate”. It comes from Whose line is it anyway and the game is called expert translation.
This idea is also used in one of my favorite films ‘La vita è bella’
Viva i burattini (Long live the puppets!) is a group of Italians who play for kids. I was on holiday in Milan last summer and I saw Flavio Collicelli in the parc, playing for the Italian kids. Fantastic to see the interaction between them and Flavio which was very lively. A great inspiration for this cameriere pazzo!
Today I was seater. I take the guest to the table and explain the buffet:”et voila, l’entrée, l’entrée, plat chaud, dessert“. She:”attendez monsieur je vais le traduire pour les autres… l’entrée l’entréé plat chaud dessert“. WTF!!!
Being a polyglot isn’t easy, you have to fight against your accent because they don’t understand you. French is a very sensitive language in this matter and the Frenchies in general aren’t the most patient people (in contrary to Italians for example). But even in my motherlanguage I have a kind of accent (“You speak it perfectly, but where do you come from”) so maybe it’s me. 🙂
No no!!! Don’t touch that table! Underneath is the phantom, who will escape. He lets everything fall down. Don’t you see the little broken glass on the floor? It’s his work! No no! Don’t look underneath the napkin! It’s the spirit of a waiter who died from love hurt. His girlfriend, a beautiful Italian waitress fell in love with a chef and left. All the waiters will drop glasses if he’d escape from underneath!
Yesterday I had a lot of fun with a couple of curious kids who wanted to look underneath the napkin of a gueridon. And if you tell kids NOT to do something, yes you know, they’ll try to do it. Of course inspirated by the Phantom of the Opera
If you work in a restaurant with a lot of kids with dolls or puppets, it’s a great way to have fun. Imagine that you it’s a voodoo doll so everything the kid does, acts on you. If he stabs with a knife, you pretend having pain. If he kisses, you stroke away the kiss. (or rubb it in). If he tickles, you laugh. First they don’t see the interaction, but as soon as they see it, the fun and hilarity at the table is great! Greatly visualized in this ad of an Dutch insurance company!
Hans Teeuwen is a Dutch humorist. Although not my kind of humour, this video (in Dutch, sorry) is funny. And there is some cursing in it, so be warned!
In this video you can see how you can play with no (or little) attributes. I did it once (but I didn’t scream and certainly didn’t name world’s oldest profession!) and everything was laughing.
Click here for more information and links about handpuppets
A very famous improv comedy game is ‘Yes and…’. The first person gives a statement and the second adds something with ‘Yes and..’ Then it’s the turn to the first person and so on. It will be clear by seeing this fragment with kids who plan a party.
To be honest, I don’t know if I can really use it in the restaurant. Maybe when there’s a lot of time and with very open kids. I might try it by starting myself saying ‘Yes and..’ when a child tells a story and maybe the kid will pick it up.
Ingrid Bergman gives a virtuoso solo performance in this Jean Cocteau one-act called The Human Voice. The plot of this hour-long piece is a simple one: a woman, devastated after her lover leaves her for someone else, speaks to him on the phone one last time. (in the theatre and I suppose also here in this fragment, there’s nobody on the phone of course)
You can talk on an imaginary phone (use your POS card!) with an imaginary person. Also when a kid plays with something (that looks) like a telephone, you can play this improvisation. A month ago, I talked with a Romanian kid. She understood nothing (I talked Italian) and I understood nothing! But we both (and everybody around us) had fun!