Comedians Ryan Gaul and Jeremy Brothers are currently filming the movie McCurdy Point in Lincoln County. They came to Lincoln Academy to offer an improvisational comedy workshop to LA students on October 13, 2022
Comedian and actor Ryan Gaul, who grew up in Damariscotta before moving to Los Angeles, took his first improvisational comedy workshop in Boston after he graduated from college. He took to it like a fish to water.
“I never looked back,” he told Lincoln Academy students who gathered for an improvisational comedy workshop at LA’s Poe Theater on October 13. “Improv became my life.”
Gaul has made a successful life from improv: he is a member of the LA based comedy troupe the Groundlings, made regular appearances on TV shows including Superstore and House of Lies, and was part of the main cast for all four seasons of the Last O.G., a show created by Jordan Peele.
Gaul and fellow actor/comedian Jeremy Brothers are in Lincoln County this month working on their film McCurdy Point, a horror movie set in Maine. They offered this workshop to LA students while they are in town filming. “I am really happy to work with high school students,” said Gaul. “I wish this were something someone had introduced me to when I was in high school.”
The two comedians led students through a series of exercises to help them be more comfortable with improvising on stage. After each activity they offered an explanation for how the exercise helped build improvisational skills.
“Enthusiasm is infectious,” Brothers told students after a rock/paper/scissors tournament that took less than five minutes and resulted in raucous cheering from all participants. “At first we may fake it, but then genuine enthusiasm starts to build, and after a while the whole room is cheering.”
Another exercise was entitled “Todd the Angry Gardener,” and involved a mad-libs-like speed round where students shouted out names, adjectives, and professions, and then had to quickly interpret how this person might act. Gaul told students, “even if you think you’ve made a mistake on stage, or say something that doesn’t make sense, you need to keep moving forward, and trust that the other people on stage have you, and can pick up where you left off.”
Gaul and Brothers introduced the “first rule of improv” which is to greet every new idea on stage by saying “yes…and.”
“In improv, anything you do is right,” said Brothers, who has taught these skills for decades to college students and adults in Boston. “There is no wrong answer. We are not here to correct people, but to continue the action. You do this by saying YES.”
“I really appreciated how they were able to make the connection between these improv skills and acting in a play,” said junior Mitchell Straus, who, like many of the workshop participants, is in the cast of Lincoln Academy’s upcoming fall musical Les Miserables. “We have worked on many of these skills before in rehearsals, but improv really gives us dramatic examples of how important it is to commit to the concepts like staying positive and trusting other people, and I liked how Ryan and Jeremy kept connecting these exercises back to how the skills can be used.”
Gaul, Brothers, and other members of the cast of the movie McCurdy Point will perform in an improv comedy show on Sunday, October 23 at 5 pm at the Lincoln Theater in Damariscotta. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for students and are now available on the Lincoln Theater website.