Wednesday, December 10, 2014

IDIOT OF THE WEEK: Martha Vargas Bogliani

Name: Martha Georgina Vargas Bogliani
Village Idiots since: June 2013
Real Life Job: Student at RIT in Electrical Engineering (aka. Slave of the System) with previous Spanish & American High School Diplomas
Birthdate: October 24th, 1991

Favorite Quote: “Everything is awesome! Everything is cool when you’re part of a team!” - The Lego Movie
Pet Peeve: Having to explain to others that “my Spanish” is from Spain. (And no, I don’t know where the "biblioteca" is.)
Special Powers: Cute Spanish Accent.
Outside Hobbies: Trying to convince my roommates to get a puppy.
Other Trivia: I know 7.5 languages… fluently.

How did you get into improv? Isioma dragged me to a class. I didn’t really want to come back. Then he dragged me again. Now I’m addicted. I may need help.
Previous Improv or Acting Experience: I was the Star of Bethlehem in a play about baby Jesus for my 3rd grade drama club. (Note, I hid behind a fake wall as I walked behind it holding a cardboard star on a stick).

Improv/Acting Achievements: All of the achievements. Every single one.
Why you like being part of the Village Idiots?
"To improv or not to improv?” you may ask. Well, as a good friend of mine said, to live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering. So there you go.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

IDIOT OF THE WEEK: Steve Spindler

Steve Spindler
Member since March, 2013. Probably.

Job: Videographer/Marketer/Filmmaker/Object of your affections
Education: BFA in Film & Animation
Birthdate: February 19, 1990. A fact I often make abundantly clear.

Life Motto: "I'll think of something clever later."
Pet Peeve: Bad grammar and redundancy and bad grammar.
Special Powers: Every full moon I become Pat Sajak and record a month's worth of Wheel of Fortune episodes.
Outside Hobbies: Tomfoolery, writing sitcoms, and gallivanting. In that order.
Other Trivia: At 188 decibels, the whistle of the blue whale is the loudest sound produced by any animal.
Previous Improv or Acting Experience: Former member of Team Crossfire (Hope Lutheran Church), founding member of Catawampus (Aquinas Institute), like a million school plays, and the improv TV Series "Midtown".
Improv/Acting Achievements: I once made a man's head explode from the sheer complexity of my scene. Also, I'm a pathological liar.
How did you get into improv? I started off as a casual fan of the form, weaseled my way into a team at my church, started my own team at school so I could live out my fantasy as a dictator, and eventually ended up under the rule of a far more cruel leader. What goes around comes around.
Why you like being part of the Village Idiots? Because Swithun will bring out his whipping cane if I say anything bad about it. NO WAIT. I DIDN'T MEAN IT! PLEASE DON'T...

Sunday, November 23, 2014

IDIOT OF THE WEEK: Eric Kohl

Eric A. Kohl
Member since July 2011

Job: Educator
Education: MS Education, SUNY Brockport
Birthdate: February 13, 1985

I've always thought of myself as a pretty funny guy, and performing improv really reiterates that fact! I came to the Village Idiots with no previous acting or comedic experience - and through great teaching and performance opportunities - I have been able to develop and enjoy my time on the improv stage. Some of my most memorable experiences have come from performing with some great people and team: Hobert Thompson and James Battagalia of "Pandas and Fake Snow," and also forming my own team with Brian Calmes, "Plan B."

What I feel is the best part of being a Village Idiot is the openness of the group. Being able to try new things on stage, encouragement from others and of course encouraging others to push themselves!

When not on stage I am an educator, I have earned my Master's degree in Education from the State University of New York College of Brockport. I enjoy coaching and playing a bunch of different sports. I tend to be a bit of a renaissance man, waking up early and spending as much time as I can outdoors. One of my favorite past times is to dress in my flannel shirt, spend the morning growing a beard and the afternoon cutting down trees with my trusty axe and my pet ox.

Friday, November 21, 2014

IDIOT OF THE WEEK: David Coon

David Coon
Member since 2012

Job: Software Architect and Controls, Digitronik Labs
Education: B.A. in Mathematics, Cornell University
Birth Date: January 23, 1985

David Coon is a programmer, improviser, and musician in Rochester, NY.  He has been a member of the Village Idiots since 2012, starting as musical improviser before becoming a full fledged member of the cast in 2013.  His first experience with improv comedy was, of course, the show "Whose Line is it Anyway?", which intrigued him to try to learn the art form, but never got the chance to in high school or while earning his B.A. in Mathematics at Cornell University.  Later, after moving back to Rochester for work, David took a class at the now defunct Pillar Theater and has been entertaining Rochester ever since. He has stayed with the Village Idiots because of its multi-disciplinarian commitment to saying the dumbest things possible in public.

Outside the Village Idiots, David works in Software and Controls Engineering at Digitronik Development Labs, and plays trumpet for local bands, most recently Hieronymus Bogs.  His pet peeve is cat vomit in his shoes, and his superpower is, according to onlookers, "surprisingly decent dance skills, given the circumstances."

Favorite Quote: "I'm a full grown man, but I'm not afraid to cry." - Beck Hanson
Pet Peeve: Cat vomit in my shoes
Special Powers: Beatboxing badly without shame & surprisingly decent dance skills, given the circumstances.
Hobbies: Play trumpet & Expensive beers
Trivia:
A) Went to Amsterdam at age 27, and smoked nothing the entire time.
B) Every band he's ever been a major player in, save one, has been named after a scientific phenomenon
Prior Improv/Acting experience:   Nil
Why did you get into Improv? I wanted more fear and uncertainty in my life.
What do you like about the Village Idiots? There's a wide variety of players with different play styles and focuses.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Village Idiots Present: "Therapy"

This past Summer the troupe participated in the Buffalo 48-Hour Film Project this past Summer. The way the competition works is that we are given:
  • a genre: Film Noir
  • a character: Arnold Peters, Visitor
  • a line of dialogue: "You don't have a clue, do you?"
  • a prop: a deck of cards
After we submitted the short film for competition, we went back and tweaked a few things, and posted it below. 

In the end, we had great fun, but we're probably going to stick to improvised comedy for the while. :-)



Thursday, August 21, 2014

SECRET ORIGINS: PLAN B

In 2012 & 2013, the Village Idiots held four improv competitions, where all winners were decided solely on audience voting. And it was from these intense tournaments that Plan B was formed. But to truly understand them, you need to go back to the beginning...
James Battaglia

In December of 2011, Swithun No introduced James Battaglia to Hobert Thompson and the two of them became very good friends. One night while watching an animal documentary, these two lads simultaneously burst out laughing at the voice-over phrase "pandas and fake snow" and it stuck. With this silly name and a lot of panda-themed, stage make-up, this wildly-creative team won the first 2012 improv tournament.
Brian Calmes

It was soon after this first competition that a young Brian Calmes started taking improv classes at the Village Idiots.

By the second competition, the "Pandas" had invited the very talented Eric Kohl to join them as now a three-man team.
Eric Kohl

And this time--without make-up--they rocked the house again! But it wasn't easy as there was some very stiff competition from their 2nd place competitors: the very funny, and equally bizarre team--"Schwoone" conceived by the outrageous Peter Schafer and quickly-advancing Brian Calmes.

Fresh off their wins, the "Pandas" boys created their own monthly improv show at the Village Idiots Pillar Theater, where they would often invite other improv groups and teams to play with them. Many times these invited teams would show up; many times they would not. More than once, Eric and Brian were called upon at the last minute to help open up a "Panda" show.  

10-Round Mag
Sliced Bread
 Plan B
Months later, while James and Hobert were hanging out, a simple idea shared between the two of them transformed into a movie script written in a day. They got so excited about creating their buddy/stoner movie, "Twenties," the "Pandas and Fake Snow" team did not enter the third competition. Without teams of their own, Eric and Brian forged an alliance dubbed "10-Round Mag," and proceeded to win the hearts of the audience and the prize of the competition.
Steve Spindler

It was soon after this that a young Steve Spindler started taking improv classes at the Village Idiots.

Eventually, Hobert was planning on moving back to North Carolina, so with much sorrow Pandas did their last show (click here to view), and Eric and Brian now started taking over the realm of producing the monthly show.

In the fall of 2013, Eric and Brian entered the fall competition as "Sliced Bread"... which everyone agreed was not a great name, but it would have to do. Nonetheless, their chemistry overcame their nomenclature and their team made it as a tournament finalist. Meanwhile, James paired up with Steve as "Not the Audience" which also made it as the tournament finalist. So who won?

BOTH TEAMS TIED FOR FIRST! 

It was after this competition, that the guys were reminiscing about how Eric and Brian would often have to be the backup plan for the Panda show, how they would have to be the plan B. And then they realized it: They were "Plan B" all along.

But then the Village Idiots got kicked out of Village Gate... And James could no longer do shows due to work commitments.... And Brian was moving away to go to college... etc.

But before certain doom, Swithun No was determined to get "Plan B" together for one last performance in the Village Idiots new home... for one final performance... for one night only... their LAST STAND! Come check these award-winning improvisors out at 8pm tonight for what is bound to be an epic night of improv comedy at its finest!

Friday, August 15, 2014

48 hours of madness.


Swithun signs his legal name for the official documents, Steve feels
"I don't even know who you are anymore..."
This past weekend the Village Idiots participated in Buffalo's 48 hour film project.
It all started with a group trip to our neighboring city where, on Friday evening, we were briefed on the necessary contents of our movie.

Here's what we got:
  • Genre: Film Noir
  • Character: "Arnold Peters" or "Amanda Peters" (Visitor)
  • Line: "You don't have a clue, do you?"
  • Prop: A deck of cards
With this, we were now equipped to start our creative journey of awesome.

Most of Friday night was spent scheming and writing the overall arc of the film. 
Some of our discarded ideas included...
  • A detective who, although extremely serious and convinced of his keen eye, is always making the absolute wrong deductions.
  • A physics professor who receives a mysterious note that solves Heisenberg's Uncertainty principle and he is thus enlightened to solve every mystery presented to him through the power of science. It is later revealed that the note was, in fact, a prank pulled by one of his graduate students.
  • A very distraught stay-at-home mom who keeps misplacing objects around the house and keeps blaming it on a bigger conspiracy. She also happens to get heavily distracted by the seductive pool boy working on her premises.
  • A (crazy) homeless man that takes conspiracies very seriously and also happens to be the inventor of pizza.
As you can tell, our creative bug was fading into an altered state of consciousness by the early hours of Saturday, so we picked our storyline - THERAPY - and got as much sleep as possible to prepare for the full day of filming that was ahead of us.

--- Filming ---


 The movie was loaded with emotional moments, love stories, mental turmoil, mischief, violence, murder, double-crossings, and even guns. Well, let me specify...
LOTS of guns.

And what about the amah-zing special effects make-up? We've got to thank Molly Hill for her first dabbling in the craft - it was a thing of beauty to see her batter the three young men below.



 David, Matt, and Brandan sure look like they need some explaining to do to their mothers... The Village Idiots have turned them into hoodlums and thugs!


The action-packed film required lots of work - from the small details in dress and facial expressions, to having to wait for the right amount of sunlight or waiting out the noise of passers-by as they came and left from Carifest.



Our filming didn't stop until the night crept on us, which ended up being a nice touch throughout the time progression of the film. Some shots took a bit more work than others, for instance this car scene was a bit of a challenge to illuminate just right - like any good Film Noir would take into consideration.

Really, we could go over all the specifics and dissect the movie for you, but we much rather share a whole bunch of pictures with you and let you see for yourself.
The movie will be made public after 8/15/2014 given the competition's guidelines. For all the content and extra pics, make sure to visit our Facebook Page!


                                                                               
   Aaaand... let's give a round of applause to our camera-men: Steve Spindler and Shawn Gray! These guys are not only talented, but super-professional at what they do. This race of a project didn't feel half as chaotic as we were expecting and it was in great measure thanks to the way they handled the shots and organized the team in the most optimal ways. We wish them great adventures in their filming careers and hope to collaborate on more movie shenanigans in the future~
                                                                                                                     

Matthew Vimislik. detective.
Speaking of wonderful things... The Village Idiots have found a super-talented artist by the name of Matt Vimislik. Seriously, this man can act! He's a natural, for he claims he hasn't dabbled in any sort of drama-related field before stumbling across our silly, little group and taking his first level 1 class a few weeks before. Matt does not only act like a fish in water when on stage, he is also an absolute sweetheart and made it a pleasure to spend a day working with him when we threw the lead role onto him after people in our troupe couldn't make it. --- Thank you for all your help, Matt!

From left to right:
Joanne Brokaw, Tammy Colvin, David Scherer, Brandan Sankar, Matthew Ross.
This movie wouldn't have been at all possible without the help of our lovely Level 1 Students!
We would like to thank them all for bringing their talented selves to the stage. It was really fun and exciting for us - maybe they don't hate us for stressing them out in this nervewracking project? Oh, and we hope to see them again soon. Play well, children ♥

Photo credits to the wonderful Joanne Brokaw and Molly Hill. These ladies are, simply put, "FANTASTIC."



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fixing ALL the Things


We spoke a bit earlier about how we've been moving around for the past few months. Here's a bit more about that.
Big old pipe before its makeover.
Paint. Paint EVERYWHERE!!
The Village Idiots members are now complete experts in the science of moving, tearing things apart, painting, and restoring old buildings into nice-looking ones. For that reason, the old Downstairs Cabaret Theater #2 (which, when we arrived, looked more like a deserted set from an episode of hoarders), is now shaping up to be a cozy, elegant theatre.

Swithun and Monica hard at work.
Together with Bread & Water's owner, JR Teeter, and his crew we've patched up floors, walls and ceilings, sanded, painted, cleaned, and organized all sorts of furniture...

We are still a few details away from absolute perfection, but we are extremely proud of the results so far.

Look at that perfect coat of paint!
Monica, you're amazeballs.
We managed to have the stage ready just in time for our first show of the summer: Improv Comedy Battles, on July 12, 2014. We had a great turn-out for an all-around awesome show!

The truth is we are itching to perform, since it's been so long we've been on stage for an audience. We've worked really hard, rehearsal after rehearsal, to guarantee that our guests will not only enjoy us, but fall in love with us~ even if it's just a little ♥

Our Neighborhood!!
As we move forward, we're looking to put our skills to use on a bigger scale... restoring the Cascade District to become a place of entertainment and recreation, as well as a cooperative and friendly destination for businesses!

A while back, the Cascade District was mainly a manufacturing area and, sadly, after the industrial sector plummeted the neighborhood became a bit atrophied. In the 1960's, however, it underwent a huge renovation. Parking lots, residential, and commercial buildings replaced the old, empty factories. Now, there is a vibrant mix of historic and modern buildings that make it an attractive hub to a diverse group of people.

If there is one thing this place needs is the spark of life that activities like improv and theater can provide! The Village Idiots will try to do just that for Rochester's WEST END.
(Get ready for action, Rochester)


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Our First Show... at Our New Home!


My, oh my! What a night.

Swithun's now the man of the house. He's 8, was about time!
We certainly did not expect such a great turnout for our first show of the season. We realized very quickly how different our experience as a business is going to be since we are no longer "sheltered" by our previous neighbors at the Village Gate Mall. Being inside a building that is considered a destination in itself, helped us grab people's attention even when we may not have been a high priority on their list. But we have grown up and are a "Big Improv Group" now. The fact that so many people showed up to our event for our show *exclusively* made us feel honored, proud, and excited.

Ben & Irwin mind-melded over their love
. . . for sushi.



HONORED, because every time someone visits our venue to see us perform, we feel like superstars. At that moment, we don't worry about anything else because we focus all we've got on our audience's expectations, and do our absolute best to not let them down. We adore the audience from afar and give them the best of ourselves on stage. We may goof up every now and then, but we do it with the best of intentions, promise!






Barbecue vs. Sushi - - - Things that matter.
PROUD, of having such a talented and devoted group of individuals that puts hours of practice into developing a skill that others want to enjoy. Being a part of the Village Idiots family isn't something trivial, it eventually becomes a deep connection that our teammates experience. Just like love, however, it has its highs and its lows. Yet, there's just something about a show performance done with people you trust and respect that beats all the negativity that may burden you. 



EXCITED, as in,
"WE CANNOT WAIT TO MAKE YOU LAUGH, EVERY SATURDAY AT 9:30PM!"
Irwin, illegal "alien" from Mars, is tired of the long drive.
Martha, Mexican smuggler, tells him to go to the back of the truck.

Swithun's smartphone makes him
feel dumb.
This week's show was fantastic, there's no doubt about it. The turn-out was tremendous. The theater is looking great. The cast did an excellent job, albeit being rusty. And we had a beautiful full moon at the end of the show to top it all off.

We are very grateful to everyone that has made this journey of ours possible. We hope to bring you more positive updates as we continue doing what we do best - becoming inspired by our environment, agreeing with the premise, and adding our own flavor of awesome to make the best out of any situation!

THANKS!

The best gospel hit of the Summer 2014: Pre-paid Minutes.

--- Photographs of the show, courtesy of Valerie Peters. We love you, Val!


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Idiot Intensive Weekend 2014


Steve and Don waiting for the action to begin.

The weekend of June 27th was one full of fun and excitement for the Village Idiots. For the first time in over a year, the idiots got together for hours on end to learn forgotten concepts, practice rusty skills, and have tons of fun with each other.

Let's face it, it's been a bit of a rough year for the Village Idiots. 
Steve and Curtis embrace. Irwin thinking, "Oh, to be a young man again."

How much molestation can a poor pillar endure?  
Since the end of November 2013 it was more appropriate to call ourselves the "Nomad Idiots," given that we kept bouncing from place to place and didn't stay long enough to set our roots. We bid farewell to our infamous pillar, traveled upstairs to the Upstage Theater (that only lasted one set of shows in New Year's Eve) and performed sporadically at the Writer's and Books gallery while we continued our search for a permanent home.

This madness went on until we discovered our kindred spirit group, Bread & Water Theatre - they're our serious-theater equivalent of sorts.

We have now moved into their theater located at 172 W Main St. as artists in residence. We hope to be partners in crime for as long as possible, and have been sharing responsibilities of getting the place ready for all of our fans to enjoy!


THE VILLAGE IDIOTS INTENSIVE WEEKEND

We kicked off the 3-day event with a Characters & Physicality workshop on Friday. We discovered our inner squeaky voices, monstrous strolls, and explored different ways to break the laws of physics!

Steve is like Superman... without any of the upper body strength. 

Laura, stop breaking things!
Ed Keegan
Friday evening, we had special guest and Rhythm Connect owner, Ed Keegan, facilitate a drum circle for us.

The fun was never ending and the whole experience felt like a journey from rhythm and melody to chaos and cacophony and back to pleasant music.

The whole group is already looking forward to another similar experience!
--- Thanks, Ed!
We began our Saturday morning with some Elizabethan speech lessons... That is, "how to sound like Shakespeare without really being a Shakespeare nut." We covered all the different verbal seasonings for our spoken platter, but we all agreed that the best part was getting to insult people repeatedly with goofy, funny sounding, outdated words. Like hedge-pig. We all loved hedge-pig.

Irwin and Steve learning how to read.
We grabbed some lunch together and continued playing, now Short-Form Games & Scenes. We were reminded of how to grade our own performances based on game structure proficiency, mastery of energy flow, and creative presentation. We then tried to repackage some of the Village Idiots classics - such as the Pillars game, where we got to ask Jesus what his favorite food was.
(¡sǝᴉɹɹǝqʍɐɹʇS :ɹǝʍsu∀)


We then had another special guest, Barry Kur, a renowned Lessac Instructor and Professor Emeritus at Penn State University. (Arthur Lessac founded the Lessac Kinesensic Training System for the Voice and Body.) Through the 6-hour Lessac for Voice and Body course, the Village Idiots explored how to create different realities with their bodies based on the potency, buoyancy, and radiancy of our actions. We then experienced how our voice truly originates from the nature of our movements and state of action. It was an innovative experience for our group that, at times, may have looked more like a hostage situation than a theatre workshop (in the words of Teacher Kur).


In Steve's cab, Izzie is dying and Brian just wants a compliment. 
Although the Voice and Body workshop took place over two days (Saturday evening and Sunday morning), let's not skip the Saturday late night Improv Jam! Most of the idiots (those that were not already burnt out by our full schedule of activities) stayed for a few hours and played with each other. Given our busy lives, it isn't often that we get to share the stage all together at the same time. Familiar and not so familiar faces played as one and were already including the great lessons learned during the past couple of days in their creations! Needless to say, it was a blast to see some of the scenes take place.

"What kind of improv intensive would this be without the challenge of long-form?" many improvisors may ask. Well, it's not like the weekend hadn't already surpassed the expectations of the participants already, but we did want to cover as much ground as possible. So, without further ado, the Harolds & Long-Form Techniques workshop came around.

Swithun = security guard. Martha = "I don't care!"
Curtis and Molly perform their e-commerce dance.
Steve just waiting around.

After that, we polished our musical bone with the Creating Songs workshop. Some of the evening's favorites were:

Swithun, Cris, Steve, and David = "Dystopia in the Key of E"
"♪♫ ~ Old people... We can't get into our pants ~ ♫♪"

 and 

"♪♫ ~ Don't do crack... Uncle Joe, put that needle down ~ ♫♪"


If you'd like to listen to some of our musical hits, let us know! We're thinking about creating a completely improvised song album if the demand for it is high enough ♥

The last (but not least, by any means) event of the intensive weekend was the Sketch Writing Review workshop. The very talented improvisors also have writing chops, if you didn't already know, and because of the great ideas shared at this event we may dabble in sketch if the conditions are right. (To our fans far away from Rochester - No worries, we would probably put the videos up online instead of performing them live~)

Now that the weekend is over we realize how truly *INTENSIVE* this series of events was. Nevertheless, despite the exhaustion and burnt-out brain cells, we already have a follow-up intensive in the works. Hopefully it will be just as good or, who knows, could it get even better?

As a final note, the Village Idiots would like to thank Rachel Baumgarten for her wonderful photography skills and Molly Hill for playing with us throughout the weekend. It was clear to us that this event would not have been the same without them!


That being said, we now leave you with the complete album of the Village Idiots Intensive Pictures - Enjoy!