Posts by Stephen Tobolowsky

The Method of No Method

Originally published backstage.com Oct. 2, 2014. I was working on Big Time in Hollywood, FL, a very funny new show for Comedy Central (premieres March 25). We were on break and I asked director-sometimes-writer-always-executive-producer Dan Schimpf, “How many times do you get to the set and find that you have to change your game plan?”…

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Comedy and Henri Bergson

Originally published backstage.com Sept. 4, 2014. Photo from Kayatana Stamps. When one thinks of comedy, one rarely thinks of Henri Bergson—quite possibly because one has never heard of Henri Bergson. I was surprised to learn not too many years ago that Bergson was considered the greatest thinker on the planet…at least according to another great thinker,…

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Transitions

Originally published August 7, 2014 backstage.com Photo source: Backstage, Clay Rodery. I was teaching my comedy class at Kalmenson & Kalmenson when I discovered one of my students was very adept at improvisation. I asked what her background was. She said she was a writer and an acrobat. An acrobat? Yes. She was studying aerial…

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Horror Vacui

Originally published July 10, 2014 backstage.com One of my favorite classes in college was art history. Our teacher introduced us to a concept that sounded like something from a science fiction movie: “horror vacui.” She explained it meant fear of open space. The Egyptians were afflicted with it. In their art, they had the need…

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The Words That Hurt

originally appeared backstage.com June 12, 2014. In improvisation, you have to be your own writer, director, performer, and editor. I have one rule: You are not allowed to be your own critic. All actors want constructive criticism. That is the only way we can get better. However, there is a line. I have always doubted…

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Take A Hike

Originally published backstage.com. May 15, 2014. Photo source: Backstage, Clay Rodery. A joint study by the University of Kansas and the University of Utah finally confirmed something that people knew 3,000 years ago. Researchers took 56 people, a fairly even mix of men and women, sent them into the wilderness on organized camping trips, and…

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Do You Really Have to Memorize Lines?

Originally appeared backstage April 17, 2014. Photo source: Backstage, Clay Rodery. One of the eye openers about being a teacher isn’t the questions—it’s the answers. Over the years I have become more uncertain of everything, even the basics. Here is a frightening example: Two years ago, one of my students asked if it was important…

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