It’s called the
“Harold,” though its name is somewhat arbitrary.
This extended form of comedy
improvisation seeks to create order out of chaos while waxing
comedic on a theme suggested by the audience. In the technique,
a small group of actors builds on the theme while relying
on each other to support and determine the outcome in a series
of skits and games. The result, whether logical or not, is
On Thursday, December 5, 12 Smith
students -- six at a time -- will demonstrate the “Harold”
during two improvised performances of skits, games and musical
pieces based on audience suggestions.
The shows, which will take place
at 8 and 9:30 p.m. in the TV Studio in the Mendenhall Center
for the Performing Arts, are part of Special Studies in Improvisation,
a theater department workshop taught by Hillary Haft Bucs,
a lecturer in the department.
In the class, Bucs teaches “improv”
games such as those popularized by the television show Whose
Line Is It Anyway? and, closer to home by SIKOS (Student Improv
and Komedy Organization at Smith), to which three of the class
“The objective of the class,”
Bucs explains, “is for students to learn the techniques
of strong improvisational scene work and to enhance each student’s
ability to be spontaneous in the moment on stage.”
The “Harold” -- so
named at the suggestion of one of the actors who pioneered
the technique -- was created in the 1960s by Del Close,
director of Second City, the renowned comedy group in Chicago
that launched the careers of John Belushi, Bill Murray, Mike
Myers and others.
brings improvisation to the level of an art form,” says
Bucs. “The actors improvise three rounds of scenes and
by the third round have to connect all the scenes at some
level into an exciting climax and resolution. The beauty of
the ‘Harold’ is that even if it fails, it is magical
and very funny.”
Bucs studied with Close and performed
the comedy method at his Chicago company, ImprovOlympics.
Bucs is a graduate of the Second City training center and
Players Workshop in Chicago, and received her undergraduate
degree from Northwestern University. She has performed as
an improvisational comedian in Chicago, New York and Pittsburgh.