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MF GALAXY

MF GALAXY is a weekly podcast powered by four mighty engines: * Writers on writing: the craft and the business * Pop culture including TV, movies, graphic novels, and more * Progressive politics, activism, and social enterprise * Africentric change-makers, histories, cultures, art, and more! Mixing brand-new interviews with classic conversations (from my archive of 23 years in broadcasting) with famous and dynamic figures in the arts, Hollywood, and politics, MF GALAXY will take you to places you've never been before, and deliver fresh insights on the places you've been.
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Now displaying: Category: improviser
May 23, 2017

Jacob Banigan is one impressive cat. He knows more about how to build and refine stories than anyone I’ve ever met, and I know a lot of writers. And yet Banigan doesn’t see himself as a writer and writes only occasionally.

So how and why does he grok story like no one else? Because he’s a master improviser who’s been studying the craft since 1990 when he joined Rapid Fire Theatre in Edmonton. Sure, he also gained skills in years of creating and performing sketch comedy, including in The 11:02 Show which is where we worked together for a season, and in Gordon’s Big Bald Head, where I also worked with him one summer.

But Banigan kept growing in the field, serving as Rapid Fire’s Artistic Director from 1995 to 2004, creating news plays, launching improv festivals Nosebowl and the long-form improv show CHiMPROV, and helped make Rapid Fire’s reputation go international by winning competition after competition. Now he lives in Austria where he works with Theater Im Bahnhof of Graz and English Lovers of Vienna, and he wanders the planet like David Banner, performing and teaching improv wherever people need him.

In today’s episode of MF GALAXY, Jacob Banigan discusses:

  • What the fundamental core of improv has to teach writers and all story-tellers
  • Why improvisers should never focus on “being funny”
  • The most important thing to know about how to get your audience to care about your characters and plot
  • Why it’s absolutely indispensable to screw up and even fail at your art, and when you should disrupt a system that’s working
  • How to harness randomness to improve your creativity
  • How falling in love with your process can cost you the quality of your product
  • How he runs the best critique sessions I’ve ever seen—which is why I’ve asked him to advise me on two screenplays—and how to learn his method, and
  • How to know if you can trust your fellow creators.

Banigan spoke with me over food at Edmonton’s Route 99 diner on August 24, 2016. He begins by introducing himself. I seriously overestimated how well my microphone would pick up my voice and seriously underestimated how much ambient noise it would collect. So sometimes I’ll be cutting in to rephrase my question, and at other times I’ve boosted the gain so you can hear me.

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