You never know what you're going to see at an improv comedy show?and that's the beauty of it. Read on to see what you should expect at a show or class and to learn just how it is that actors can put their scenes together so fast.
Even when their characters are arguing, improv comics are working from a philosophy of trust and agreement?necessary ingredients for acting together with no script. Improv comedy encompasses a broad array of styles, with the major division between short form?quick, self-contained games?and long form?a series of multiple, interconnected scenes featuring distinct beats. Accordingly, a given performance might resemble a one-act play, a Saturday Night Live?style sketch scene, or a high-energy game show. Most rely on audience suggestions to spark the flow of fresh ideas, however, and some even weave brave audience members into the action.
Perhaps the most famous long-form style is the Harold, in which performers build continuous scenes that develop and intermingle in surprising ways. The unusual name arises from a joke, according to developer Del Close's biography, The Funniest One in the Room. As Close asked his collaborators what to call the new form, someone sarcastically yelled, "Well, Harold's a nice name." Appropriately for a form devoted to spontaneous absurdity, the name stuck.
This comic form also has roots in one of America's darkest eras: the Great Depression. While working for the Works Progress Administration, Viola Spolin needed a way to teach basic theater precepts to unschooled actors of various ages and backgrounds, so she created a series of theater games that focused on the playfulness at the heart of acting. In the 1950s, her son, Paul Sills, applied her principles at the short-lived but influential Compass Players on Chicago's South Side, and, later, at The Second City?one of the most prominent comedy companies of the 20th century, with alumni including John Belushi, Tina Fey, and Steve Carell.
When Sagi Rochman was drawing up the plans for his new restaurant, he knew he wanted it to be cool. So he named it Sababa, which is Hebrew for "cool"?a designation the chic lounge has easily lived up to. The space brims with plush curtains, modern art, and sleek couches, where groups sit as they sip on craft beers or one of Sababa's award-winning specialty martinis. The spa martini is particularly refreshing, a blend of cucumbers and freshly muddled strawberries that cools patrons as they sit on the outdoor patio under the rays of the Earth's only remaining sun. "The" Margarita is also popular with guests, an unorthodox mixture of tequila, Grand Marnier, freshly pureed passion fruit, and pineapple juice, which one regular swears is the best margarita outside of Mexico.
The cocktail list gets some stiff competition from the food menu. To build up the gustatory roster, Rochman enlisted the talents of celebrity chef Eric Greenspan, a contestant on Food Network programs such as The Next Iron Chef. Inspired by Rochman's heritage, Greenspan constructed a fusion of Mediterranean and Israeli flavors, resulting in dishes such as goat-cheese pizzas and seared ahi tuna with harissa mashed potatoes. There are plenty of small plates as well, including grilled eggplant with tahini and chicken kabobs with an olive-date sauce. As if the inspired tapas and lauded cocktails weren't enough, the lounge regales diners with a slew of events held throughout the week, including wine flights on Tuesdays and dance parties with live DJs on Fridays and Saturdays.
Gabriel Hall, owner of Yoga World Studios, discovered yoga at the age of 19 while pursuing his degree in philosophy. Dr. Allen Arnette—already the clinical director of the Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Department—began studying yoga as a way of researching the role mental well-being plays in healing physical ailments. Katherine Ostrout studied dance science at Cal State Long Beach and turned to Pilates after a ballet injury laid her low. These three weave their diverse backgrounds into the rich tapestry of talent made up by Yoga World’s team of yogis.
Having studied extensively in particular schools of yoga, instructors bring their individual training into the studio, focusing on disciplines that range from the physically challenging to mentally reflective, and include Iyengar, Ashtanga, Viniyoga, and Anusara. In addition to their regular yoga lessons, the Yoga World team also leads mat-Pilates classes, workshops, and private instruction. They use the art of yoga for healing in one-on-one sessions of Thai yoga therapy, which blends shiatsu massage with acupressure, or they coordinate beachside retreats full of yoga, surfing, and yoga-surfing.
Sip Lounge, inside the Renaissance Long Beach Hotel, is like a city with four distinct neighborhoods. Once guests walk past the lobby's large video wall, they're greeted by rows of wine bottles in the glass-enclosed cellar bookending the bar. Behind it, curtains billow beside a water feature that cascades along the wall like the zero-gravity streams found on the moon. Over in the dining room, large tables accommodate groups for gatherings over a local shrimp cocktail or cheese plate. The living room's plush couches cradle pairs for intimate conversations that can be shared over a glass of wine, a cocktail, or a craft beer.
Outside, the large patio embraces the busy energy of Ocean Boulevard without succumbing to it. Umbrellas, heaters, and glass walls separate its confines from the street's frenzy of beeps, brakes, and Model T hand cranks, and a focal fire pit warms both the temperature and the ambiance. The typical soundtrack of upbeat pop and instrumental music supplements Sip Lounge's live series, which hosts local artists from across Southern California.
Arthur Murray Dance Studio has been a leading name in franchise dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and the Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, the Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. Clients who arrive to lessons partnerless will be paired up with an instructor as the teachers assess their current skill level and make recommendations on the most appropriate program. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of two to four dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow.
The event planners behind QueenVee Entertainment throw themed bashes that immerse partygoers in elaborate experiences. Founded by CEO Joanna Vargas—a producer, dancer, and choreographer who started her career by staging events such as The King of Pop, a dance-tribute show to Michael Jackson—QueenVee has staged past events such as Phenomena, a mash-up of a dance showcase and a fashion show that benefited Dance for Peace Charity. Ongoing events include booze cruises aboard a three-story Grand Romance cruise ship in the style of a 19th-century steamboat, complete with an open-air top deck and a team of acrobatic Mark Twain impersonators. Further amenities entertain the up to 320 passengers, including two full-service bars, a professional DJ playing over a large dance floor, and a professional photographer who posts images on Facebook. Raffle and door prizes reward attendees with keepsakes, and tables and booths offer respite from the dance floor and a private place to run Y2K safety drills.