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Saturday, April 20, 2019
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Upright Citizens Brigade vet visits ELA

Upright Citizens

Emerson Los Angeles students participate in an improv workshop hosted by Upright Citizens Brigade veteran Bart Folkers (far left). (Photo by Daryl Paranada)

Ten Emerson College Los Angeles students recently received a personal lesson in improvisational comedy from Bart Folkerts, a veteran of the Upright Citizens Brigade.

In the span of two hours, Folkerts sought to teach students about the three necessary improv elements: comedy, scene work, and, of course, improvisation.

“Improv is a slow process,” said Folkerts. “It takes years and years to get good at it.”

Folkerts gave students techniques to help them come out of their shells. He told students that agreement is essential in improvisation, listening is key, and comedy arises from giving your opinions in scene work, among other tips.

“A lot of people go on stage and say, ‘I’m not funny,’” Folkerts said. “Perspective makes something funny.”

Students participated in various exercises to practice their improv skills, including giving their opinions on subjects such as Taylor Swift and listing Thanksgiving foods in repetition to learn about the importance of listening.

The workshop was set up by Dasha Fayvinova ’14, a Visual and Media Arts major who was involved with the Emerson Comedy Workshop in Boston. Fayvinova said part of the reason she wanted to organize the workshop was to build a connection with the Upright Citizens Brigade, which just opened a new theater on Sunset Boulevard, a few blocks from Emerson Los Angeles.  

“It’s so close,” said Fayvinova. “A lot of people don’t know it’s a resource in the community.” 

At the end of the workshop, Fayvinova said she was grateful for the students who showed up to laugh and have fun.

“It’s really hard to make people perform in front of others,” she said. “I’m glad everyone enjoyed themselves.”