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Episode 20: Why everyone should take an improv class with Brian Palermo

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by Katherine Beck in The All American Character
16/03/2021

Episode 20: Why everyone should take an improv class with Brian Palermo

Did you know that improv is one of the best things you can do to master the American accent?

Listen to today’s podcast as my guest, Brian Palermo talks about the benefits of improvisation.

 


Learn from one of the Master teachers at The Groundlings in this special podcast episode.

By the time you finish listening, you’ll know:

  • How improv can help you for auditions & when you book the role
  • Why everyone is taking an improv class these days
  • Why improv is the best thing to strengthen your American accent

If this episode inspires you then I’d love to hear from you! Take a screenshot of you listening on your device, post it to your Instagram stories and tag me @katherine_beck_ !

Then follow me on Instagram to go ‘behind the scenes’ with me and my own journey as an American accent coach and Voiceover Actor.


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When you leave us a 5 Star Review you may even get featured as our start listener of the week and get a special shout out on the show.

All you need to do is click here to review. Choose ‘Ratings and Reviews’ and then ‘Write a Review’. Let me know what you loved about this episode! Your reviews help other listeners find this show and it’s always great to hear from you.

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LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

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SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Katherine Beck
You’re listening to the All American actors podcast, Episode 20. In today’s episode, I am going to be speaking to the wonderfully talented and extremely funny Brian Palermo. We’re going to be talking about his experience working in improv and why every actor should take an improv class that’s coming up next. Ready to go behind the scenes and learn what it really takes to build a sustainable career as a working actor in the US film and TV industry? Join me Katherine Beck, your all American Accent coach, as I give you the insight and inspiration to take action on your career, learn my best tips and tricks to performing with an American Accent and hear from working actors and other industry professionals to give you a comprehensive overview of this biz we call showbiz. This is the all American actors podcast. We’re gonna start this episode in just a second, but I want to give a big shout out to Trudy Palmtree, who sent me this amazing five star review and says: Katherine is so passionate about her work and is wonderful at mixing technical elements with fun. I love that this will be here as a resource to keep coming back to as I work on the all American Accent. Can’t wait to hear more. That is so wonderful to hear Trudy and I have got some really great podcast episodes coming your way that I think you’re really going to enjoy so keep listening in. And if you want to be featured as our star listener of the week, go ahead and leave us a five star review for this podcast just like Trudy and I’ll give you a shout out right here on the show. So if you liked this episode, go ahead and leave us a review. Alright, so a lot of you know me as the all American Accent coach, but you may or may not know that I started out as an actor as well. And when I was living over in LA, I decided to take improv classes and I decided to go to the famous Groundlings. It was just up the road from where I was living and I was a huge fan at that time of Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri and Chris kuttan watching them on Saturday Night Live just in tears of laughter and joy. And when I learned that they all studied at the Groundlings, I was hooked. I was like where do I sign? How do I get started? Could I have started yesterday I need to study there too. And that is exactly where I met today’s guest. He was one of my teachers over at the Groundlings. He is such a great improv teacher. He is super funny and just an all around great guy. Brian Palermo is an improv genius. He is one of the original cast members of the crazy Uncle Joe show, which is a weekly long form improv set over at the Groundlings and if you look him up on IMDB, you will see he has such a long list of professional TV and film credits. He has been in so many things. He has a wealth of information and he still teaches improv today. And without further ado, please let’s welcome to the show, Brian Palermo. Welcome to the show Mr. Brian Palermo. I think it’s been a good 15 years or so since I last saw you I wasn’t sure if you would even remember me but you were one of my favorite teachers at the Groundlings so I’m very excited to have you on the show.

Brian Palermo
I am super thrilled to be remembered I remembered fondly and invited to do a new thing. Hi, Katherine.

Katherine Beck
Hello. And so I wanted to bring you on the show because you were such an incredible improv teacher. You broke it down so easily for me and me. I know me personally growing up, I was very shy. I was always a very shy actor. I felt like I thrived on stage, but always with a script. So doing improv, I felt like was something that was a real challenge. And I think you introduced it in a way that was really easy to dive in. And so what makes improv, you know, something that can be really beneficial for actors just in general, do you think?

Brian Palermo
There’s so many aspects to it and so many facets of it, and I don’t want to sound pretentious, and grandiose and gross, but it’s all skills that you use as an actor, whether you’re doing big character stuff. You know, comedic characters can go as far as Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig, and Maya Rudolph, and Will Ferrell. All those guys are Groundlings. And I’m going to endlessly drop names. I beg your indulgence right now. But that can go a choice, that kind of acting which is big and over the top and comedic and in my opinion, fun and awesome. Or just the skillset of listening to your partner. In improv, you’ve got to listen because you’re there is no content. If you’re if you’re doing Romeo and Juliet, you can do at any time in the past 400 years and you’ll get those lines out and even if it’s a horrible performance, you get the story across improv periods, no story, you’ve got to make it And the only way to do that successfully is to listen to your partner. And that can be applied to actual scripted material. So if we’re doing a scene, I still need to listen to you and let your information affect me, that brings up the emotional stuff. So in improv, we, especially the Groundlings, we push, make emotional choices be reactive, you know, make this matter to your character. So there’s gotta have some stakes to it. So the emotion stuff that plays into any of your acting work, the listening the the the body presence, you know, that the full body representation of what are you trying to convey there. You’ve got to express it clearly enough to your partner and the audience, so that everybody gets it. So there’s a lot of facets of improv that are directly relatable to more, you know, more professional acting.

Katherine Beck
I kind of just jumped in, we should probably tell our audience a little bit about you. So excited to talk to you. But yeah, do you want to tell our listeners a little bit about who you are and how you became this amazing improv teacher?

Brian Palermo
Oh, what a great story. You guys settle in, buckle up. No, I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, which is in the States, of course, and came out to LA after college, and did a bunch of sort of day job stuff while I was doing improv at night and a lot, it was my only outlet. My only training, my only hobby, my only social, you know, connection was all I was just an improv boy for like, three, four years. And so I got a lot of hours, I’d like to say I got very good at it. But that’s subjective, I will say improved a lot. Got a lot better over the years. And then I started getting some professional acting work. So for the past 20 plus years, I’ve been a professional actor who does a lot of improv coaching and teaching on the side. So that’s kind of where I am now.

Katherine Beck
Very cool. And so how did you get involved with the Groundlings?

Brian Palermo
When I was in New Orleans, I took an acting class, I think my degree is communication. So I was not an acting theater guy. But I took like the first two or three, you know, acting one on one classes to because I was afraid of it, I want to get over that fear. And it’s just as fun, you know, it’s like, I’m not gonna take an elective of chemistry, I’ll kill myself, you know, and I, you know, the benefit of being a straight man in that in that cohort is like, oh, there’s a, there’s a lot of straight cute girls that I wanted to. So there was a lot of just dumb reasons that I that I went to the acting stuff, but I loved it. And one day, we had one, one session, like a one three hour class of improv, and that I really responded to and I thought, Oh, my God, this is so much fun. And it takes the pressure off of being good with other people’s words. I always felt like, I can’t do you know, Tom Stoppard? I don’t know anything about I don’t know how to…I didn’t know how to translate other people’s work that well. But improv is your own and your partner’s work. And I thought, well, we can make that happen, because it’s just us. So. So I really responded to it. And then when I moved out to LA, I sought out okay, where can I learn this stuff better? How can I actually improve and the Groundlings was was the only game in town as far as like the biggest game in town at that time. In subsequent years, we’ve had a second city, UCB, improvolympic, who’s now gone sadly, in the past. Impro Theater is still around, they’re fantastic. I used to play with theater sports. And it’s basically those guys. So I played with a lot of groups. And Groundlings was one of them, I took many classes there. And as you may remember, it’s very common to repeat classes and get the reps and get the, you know, the repetitions in so you can actually improve. So I just found myself being there a lot. And then I moved up the classes. And then I was lucky enough to get invited into the company. So I was in the company for years. So that the ground has been my improv home for, you know, over over 25 years now. It’scrazy.

Katherine Beck
Wow. And so how did you find then working in the company as well? You were auditioning at the same time, I assume. Did you find that that really helped you with your auditions and booking?

Brian Palermo
Yes, yes, yes. immensely so and I’ll break it down. So commercial acting was one arm of what I was trying to do so that I could live and eat and, and so some actors are really judgy about doing commercials. I never had that filter. Man. If somebody wanted to hire me, I’ll go sell your car or your cat food. So commercials was a big part of my my career. So I’d get hopefully one or two commercials a year and a couple of TV spots and maybe you know, a day on a film or whatever. So I’d cobbled together my acting career with that. The improv stuff helps you so much in auditions. If you get a second take, they’ll usually give you some kind of notes and they’ll say okay, Katherine, I like what you did with that, but you know, this this woman’s more vulnerable take her softer or this woman’s a crate of maniacs that make her make her more violent. They’ll give you some kind of note for your second take, and the ability to switch gears and go from what I had prepared at home. Prior to notes to okay, I got a note that’s a different direction. I got to immediately committedlly believably implement that note, right? And improv gave me that confidence. And I didn’t always get the job clearly, you know, I don’t I didn’t get many of the jobs. But the ones I did, I can definitely point right back to improv training Oh, that helped me in the in the room. And it helps you not be so self conscious and anxious and aware in the room, you know, improv. If you say, Brian, Europe, you’re an alien given birth to a laser gun, I’m going to do it right now. You know, just get used to the flexibility of it, and the pivoting and no matter what they give you, you jump in, and you give it your best. And that was directly applicable and beneficial.

Katherine Beck
you know what that is so true. And I actually never really thought about that in terms of my own auditioning in the past that that was a big shift for me as well, because I know any time I jump into an audition, or when we were allowed to audition in the room, that I felt really at ease with taking direction and actually enjoyed when they would give me a totally different direction. I thrived on that. And I didn’t realize until you just spoke that it’s because of the Groundlings, it’s because of that improv training that I had, that made me feel really at ease in that audition process.

Brian Palermo
It’s a real comfort level that helps you then perform and you know, it doesn’t guarantee you’re gonna get the job, obviously. But I tell you, what won’t help you is if they give you a note and you do the second take exactly the way you had prepared it at home and don’t have any change whatsoever. That also tells the casting people that you may not be professional enough yet, or you may not be experienced enough yet to actually implement notes. I mean, you can nod your head and say, Oh, yeah, Got it. Got it. Got it. But if your performance is exactly the same as it was before, you’re just showing the producers and the directors that okay, this guy can’t take a note that this guy’s not able to change his performance yet. And that certainly works against you, you know. So the, again, the immediacy of being able to commit to a new choice. In a believable way, that’s probably the number one thing I got out of improv as applied to professional acting.

Katherine Beck
Yeah, I totally agree. Okay, so this is what I want to ask you. Do you find like in terms of your students, is there a specific type of actor that usually enrolls in an improv class? Or do you get actors of all varieties?

Brian Palermo
That’s good. And I would have said, many years ago, decades ago, when I started, there was a certain sort of improvy vibe. And that has changed completely. And again, I’m sorry to keep bringing up the age and how many years I’ve done it, but I think I’ve got 30 years of improv experience. I’ve actually seen some changes in the industry or in our in our cohort, or whatever we call it. So at the beginning, yeah, it was a very white suburban male thing. Like, you know, college dudes did a lot of improv stuff. And then when bridesmaids came out, you must remember that movie, I hope, yeah, of course. And listen, we saw a shift at Grambling, specifically from sort of 6040 men to women as students, that’s swaps polar opposite, so became 60-40 women to men. So that was a big step. And I’ve always loved that I’m super proud of it. And, you know, there was a vibe that the first 10 years I was out here is very Chicago, very sick, the second city and, and improvolympic. And there was a bit of a competitive vibe to it, there was a lot of dudes and very few women. And I was always so proud of Groundlings for embracing the opposite side of that. Now, I’d say it’s much more varied even than that. So the students I have when I teach at Groundlings are from 18, to sometimes in their 60s, you know, the average, this is not real data, but the average i’m saying is probably so like late 20s or early 30s people who want to be an entertainment industry, but not necessarily actors. So we get a lot of writers who just want to get a vibe for what is it like to deliver a line, what is it like to have a character with one clear point of view that I can write that character for? So we get a lot of now YouTubers, you know, want to be influencers, people that just need to interact with the public, you know, who don’t necessarily want to be the funniest woman in the room or the funniest guy, but they want this skill set. So I would say it’s a much broader variety now.

Katherine Beck
That’s really interesting. I’m trying to think back when I enrolled in the Groundlings and I think you’re right so that I think that was about 2004. I wasn’t the only girl in the class. But I don’t think there were many of us girls in the class. I remember more of the guys in the class that I was friends with, than remembering any of the girls and I think it was the same because I had also taken classes over at second city. And it was the same sort of thing. I think that was just right before there was more females and more of a wide variety of different ages and people drawn to improv. So yeah, it’s really interesting how it’s changed over the years. And it’s also interesting that you mentioned things about YouTubers and other people in different industries wanting to do improv. And that’s what I’ve noticed as well, because sometimes I work with online entrepreneurs. And I think it’s so important in the online world to be able to have that improv ability, that skill as well. And so what do you notice in terms of working with people in other professions? What are their struggles? I think in terms of communication, and how can improv help them?

Brian Palermo
That’s a big old loaded question with a lot of answers. And I’ve got all the answers for you, Catherine. Well, as I told you pre interview or you see my website, I teach a lot of applied improv. And that’s a fancy way of saying I want to do some dumb improv exercises. But the goal is not to make you funny, the goal is to make you a better listener, or a better communicator, or generate creativity more more easily, or work on your flexibility, blah, blah, blah, all those things that I just mentioned, definitely apply to influencers or YouTubers, or anybody who just wants needs to or wants to interact more effectively with another human being, you know, improv forces you to kind of put it on at a higher level. But what you’re practicing is emotional intelligence, you know, you’ve got to, you’ve got to reveal some of your emotion. And you’ve got to read your partner’s emotion. If you and I are doing a scene. You know, good morning, Catherine is completely different from Good morning, Catherine, you know, so just practicing different emotional deliveries and reading of your partner that is huge for human communication. The thing I mentioned earlier, active listening, actively listening to understand what you are going for, as opposed to right, right? Katherine’s moving her lips, and as soon as she shuts up, I’m gonna say my thing. So as you’re listening to understand your partner, instead of listening, just to wait until it’s your turn. That’s a huge communications benefit with any humans, whether you’re talking to your barista, or your parent or your child or whatever. So there’s a lot of these skills that we’ve used comedically and theatrically that apply just for human communication stuff. So I you know, I’m a big believer in all this, I’ll preach it all day long.

Katherine Beck
So, you know, I think some people probably think you have to be funny to do improv. But really, you don’t have to be funny. And there’s so many other benefits to doing improv. It’s not just about being an actor, but you know, improv can really help you in any sort of career that you’re in. Is that right?

Brian Palermo
Yeah, I would wholeheartedly wholeheartedly support that, because that’s what it is, man. And a lot of people are exposed to improv through Whose Line is in any way or Curb Your Enthusiasm or some show that has an improvised dialogue. And you think you associate it with comedy and performance, right, I get that that’s how I came to it. That’s how a lot of us are, you know, introduced to it. But when you get into the skills, they apply to everything else, I mean, it’s all I don’t want to say it’s just it’s sales, it’s, it’s more human interaction. And you can use those techniques to try to be persuasive in sales, or you can use them as a therapist, and just how to better connect with my clients, my my partner’s, um, I did a improv therapy group with a real psychiatrist. So we ran that, and that was fascinating and awesome. And the the people who opted into that had no interest in comedy at all or theatricality at all, it was just Okay, I’ll try this dumb exercise to see what comes out of it. And it was fascinating. And so there was that and then I work a lot of my science people, I work with a lot of different people that are not going for comedy or performance, public speaking skills, and you know, if you’ve got a pitch to get funding for your nonprofit, I mean, all of it.

Katherine Beck
That’s cool. So So then, I’m just curious, the exercises, the improv games that you would do for an actor, is that different to the ones that you would do with people in other professions then?

Brian Palermo
Not so no, they’re, they’re the same. But they’re, there’s different goals, I will say. So if we’re doing, you know, some kind of emotional expression exercise in Groundlings basic class, I’m really looking at you with a bar of expectation. Are you believable at all? Are you are you heightening it to a comedic level? Are you using your face in your body to express and if you’re not you need to continue getting better at this before you know you go to the next class or whatever. For purposes outside of performance. I’m just looking for weather. People are connecting to that in theory, do you realize that when you smile, you are perceived as you know, warmer or more trustworthy than when you don’t? Do you realize when you are uncross your arms that you’re perceived as more open to ideas than when you don’t. You know, there’s a lot of that stuff is just theory that everybody can understand. But then you have to practice it if you choose to. And you can choose to practice it to be a better colleague, or a better boss or a better employee, or you could choose to practice it to be a laser alien giving birth to a doughnut. I prefer the latter.

Katherine Beck
Now we live in a very interesting time. And obviously now there was improv classes online, which wasn’t really a thing before. How do you find that? Do you find that it works just as good on online?

Brian Palermo
No, not that qualified, not with the qualifier of just as good. Absolutely not. But here’s the thing. So Groundlings shifted to online classes last April, I guess, you know, some like that, out of desperation, because we everything, everything we had got close, it was all live theater with live audience or live students with I mean, live classes live students, so everything I closed at the theater, so out of desperation is like Well, let’s try a virtual class. And I was the first I was one of the first ones to do it. And I was very dubious, like, I thought it was gonna be a shit show. I didn’t think anybody’s getting anything out of it. But we did it. And everybody gave really glowing positive feedback. Now, it does not live up to the live version of it, of even taking a class. So don’t don’t get that, you know, misconception or yet, but it is still valuable, you do still get stuff out of it. And it’s 1000 times better than sitting on your couch and not doing anything. No, if you’re, if you’re pursuing anything that would benefit from live classes, find one online right now, you’re not going to wait out the pandemic, that would be a waste of your time.

Katherine Beck
I think it’s pretty cool as well is now actors from all around the world can work with teachers like you at the Groundlings online and have that opportunity that they didn’t have before, which is pretty cool.

Brian Palermo
It’s really cool. It’s a really neat side effect of It’s been one of the very few silver linings for me of the whole stick of d&d is that I have met people around the world in improv world. And it’s I it really opened my eyes. It’s like, I guess it was a bigger thing than I realized, you know, I know what it’s like in LA Chicago. And I always enjoyed it. But I didn’t realize how big a deal it is. So I taught a workshop at a festival in Copenhagen two years ago. So I got invited to go over to Denmark and do that as like what international improv fest and you’re gonna pay me to come. Okay. You know, I never heard of that, really. So that opened my eyes. I met a couple people here and there. So now I’m teaching not only for the Groundlings, I’ll do occasionally a class of my own, like just Brian’s class. And more often than not, I’ll do a class where I am the teacher and the course designer, but I’ll do it through another theater. So I do have a rise theater, rise comedy theater in Denver, vintage improv Festival, which is improvisers over 50. I love them so much. Queen City out of North Carolina. And then I just recently hooked up with Liverpool comedy improv in England. And I did my first class for them. And we had students from India there, there was one guy who was doing like, basically midnight prop because of the timing. A student who was in Sweden, a student who was in Luxembourg, and a student was in Canada, as well as all the others from the UK. So yeah, you’re exactly right. You can connect with people all over the world and have many different opportunities to work with people that you would not otherwise have. Unless you’re rich. And you’ve got all the time in the world.

Katherine Beck
Yeah, exactly. And comedy is universal. You know, everyone likes to have a good laugh and to communicate. And it is interesting, though, working with actors all around the world. Do you find that American comedy is a little bit different to comedy in all countries?

Brian Palermo
Oh, yeah. And it’s not only a ethno national, I don’t I don’t know the word. I don’t know. The adjective is not just the nationality of it. It’s definitely subjective per person. So people have subjective, you know, opinions about everything and rightly so. And in the improv community, so it’s another thing I had to learn. Two years ago, when I was invited to teach a thing I’m coming in teaching you comedic improv, right? Short Form, usually. And if you’re going to entertain an audience, and you’re going for comedy, these are your best practices, high percentage choices, yada, yada. But there’s a lot of improv out there. That’s long form. That’s not meant to be comedic. It’s more narrative or comedy is definitely a consequence of the fact that we’re trying to develop this relationship right now. Whatever, right? So there’s a lot of different takes on that. That said, Yes, you’re right. Again, I keep I’m getting bored of myself telling you you’re right all the time. But when I was in Denmark, I had people from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and the UK, Germany. Russia, I had students from all these different countries. And the vibes definitely are a little different per country too. I think that’s a function of improv as a comedic industry or whatever comedic art started in America, as far as I know the history of it. So it’s newer to all these other countries. And I think they’re finding their footing on it. And, you know, everyone’s got different comedic tastes.

Katherine Beck
Yeah, absolutely. That’s really interesting. Is there any advice that you have? Well, you know, cuz specifically to actors, because most of the people that listen to this podcast are actors from other countries. Do you have any advice for actors that haven’t jumped into improv yet? That might be kind of apprehensive? You know, anything you’d want to say to them?

Brian Palermo
Yeah, do it just do it. It’s, it’s a, it’s another facet of training. Like I said, I don’t have a degree in theater. But I went through all the all the intro classes I could. So we had a week on stage core stage combat choreography, we had a week on just using your voice properly, what a week on dance, you know, you want to have a vibe for everything that’s in your world. That’s broad. Now much, much, much more specifically, and probably much more importantly to you is that improv is a technique that’s used a lot, now. It used to be a weird, you know, only Rodney Dangerfield was allowed to go improvising, you know, otherwise, you have to stick to the script, because we don’t have time for you to do your bad joke, we got to shoot you everything every second cost $10,000. So there was not a lot of improv I’ve seen that evolve over the past 20 years of my career as well is very often directors will give you a take, right? So it’s always First, let’s get it, let’s get it off the page, let’s get what’s on the page, let’s get that in the can to make sure we have that covered. Now, if we’ve got the time, and the director likes that style, they’ll let you loosen up the script. They don’t want you to go completely to crazy town. But you can start loosening up the lines a little bit. And that because it’s so new in the second makes it feel more fresh, it makes the reaction from the other person to feel more authentic and real. And very often those tapes are used in the edited, you know, product, the finished product. So just having some comfort level, even if you have no idea of getting towards expertise, having some comfort level with this thing of improv, it’s like the combat choreography, the dancing or whatever, it’s going to come up in your career, you want to at least be able to work with it without being afraid of it. And a lot of people get very anxious about the idea of it.

Katherine Beck
I mean, I think I was as well when I first started because I was a very shy actor, a shy person. So acting was my outlet. And I think improv, I just felt like I needed to do it because it was one of those skills that you had to know as an actor. But I was very apprehensive and didn’t even know if I’d be funny on stage. But I just went for it. Because I think I was young and didn’t know any better.

Brian Palermo
Which is, this is a great form of ignorance that gets us to learn a lot. But not there’s a lot of people that I’ve taught over the years have shared that same thing where they feel comfortable with a script, or they feel comfortable playing right hiding behind another character. But they were completely uncomfortable, and like almost anxiety prone to the point of not doing it. The idea of them making up their own lines in the moment, it was really it is really scary for a lot of people. And what I would point out there is you’re in a class, you know, 5000 people are not showing up live to watch, you come up with the most brilliant stuff off the cuff, you’re in a class, do it you know, fall over fail, if you’re if the content of your scene is, you know, a woman who goes to the donut shop and you know, finds a frog, who cares? It’s not about you’re not a great writer, in this moment, you’re practicing? Am I able to connect with my partner? Even if I don’t know what the script is? Can I use my body? Can I make emotional choices? Do I commit to emotional choices, you know, you’re working on all of these skills within the flexibility and the what they call it, you know, the the ability to adapt the agility to do it all on the fly. And if you get some kind of comfort level with that, imagine how much more confident you’ll be taking a note from a director’s eye. Okay, take two. Let’s try it a little softer. I mean, you’re ready to go. You know?

Katherine Beck
Yeah, that’s great advice. Brian, it’s been so great to chat with you and catch up.

Brian Palermo
And are you releasing we already see like we just got started.

Katherine Beck
I eman, unless you want to do like an improv game or something.

Brian Palermo
Or there we go. Got pre loaded. Did you have that set? Now you were trying to get rid of me so I don’t think you didn’t. Do a quick Yes. And story. So just yesterday in one sentence. All right. Travis went scuba diving.

Katherine Beck
Yes. And he saw a fish.

Brian Palermo
Yes. And he reached out and grabbed it.

Katherine Beck
Yes. And the fish bit him.

Brian Palermo
Yes. And he started bleeding all over.

Katherine Beck
Yes. And then a whole swarm of sharks came swarming in.

Brian Palermo
Yes. And Travis used his telepathy to turn them into friendly sharks.

Katherine Beck
Yes. And then they started speaking French to him, even though they were in Africa.

Brian Palermo
And they had a fine bottle of Chardonnay as they watched the sunset,

Talking about the yes and stuff that we were just using there. That’s a it’s another great skill that you use in real life, that mindset, you can’t literally say yes to everything. I want to work with my partner, I want to I want to build on their idea. I want to connect with them. All that stuff comes out in the mechanics, the content just doesn’t matter. It just says, Yeah, yeah.

Katherine Beck
It’s so much fun. It’s so much fun. And you do you get that connection with the other person. And it’s organic, and it’s exciting.

Brian Palermo
There’s a lot going on there. And I know you do a lot of voice stuff that playing, having the ability to just play and discover and find stuff like I you know, I’m not I’m not I don’t have a lot of voice talent. I’ve never pursued that. But some people are great at voices, but they’re not good with emotions, or verse vysa. Or they’re only good if they get to practice their stuff at home the way they want to do it. You to be a more employable voice actor want to have that agility. Again, it’s like, Alright, well, Catherine, you know, do her and more of a bully do do her let’s let’s play and see what she’s like, if she’s the the shy, girl or, you know, whatever. And you want to have the confidence, just play along with that and give the producers choices give the directors choices, because if they know you can do five voices, and you’re willing to jump in and walk in and do more, they’re gonna hire you over the the man or woman who can only do two things, even though if they do well.

Katherine Beck
Yeah, that’s true. And again, I never really thought about it. But it’s true when I’ve worked in animation, and you’re in the room and they’re giving you direction. Or they might say, Hey, you know, do this accent and they’ll just throw it at you. If you have that improv background, you leap for that shift. Instead of the anxiety creeping in you go, Okay, I can do this. And I’m not worried if it’s right or wrong. Or if I’m going to fail miserably. I’m just going to leap forward and see what happens. And it’s true. I think you’re right, having that improv background has really helped me in terms of my voiceover career, but specifically as well with character voiceover creating that voice, and being able to let it change with whatever direction that you get.

Brian Palermo
Yeah. And that ability to play with your voice as opposed to having it nailed down like, this is my this my bratty little kid voices? Like, what if this bratty little kid is, you know, more gravelly, but also more generous or more thoughtful is like, Oh, my, my thoughtful crap, you know, whatever. Yeah, you’re playing and working with a director, you might be able to find something that then they use, and they choose you. Because you know that they know that you can play around and you’ve got, you know, options. options is a huge thing for the producers, they always want options. So if you are one of the actors who can provide options, you’re it’s to your benefit for sure. I want to leave you one last thing I know I’m overtired. The idea improv gives you this ability to be a little less self self conscious, I find because there is no content, there is no perfectionism and there’s there’s you cannot be wrong, because there’s nothing that you you’re trying to match to be right. Again, if we do Shakespeare, you got to get those lines, right. improv, there’s nothing to get right or wrong. Within that there’s higher percentage choices, lower percentage choices, you know, you don’t want to, you know, do a lot of jokes about tragic things or whatever. But, you know, you cannot be wrong if you start a scene with a tragic thing, that somebody could turn that around and make it work anyways. Oh, no, I, I just murdered a kitten. Well, that kitten was zombie kitten and was going to infect all the orphans. So you just saved us. Yeah, whatever, man. You just got to play, play, play play. And the ability to look at a content or performance as not perfect perfectionism that really frees you up, because people fall into that who just want to be perfect and get it all right. That’s important to strive for, but it’s art man you never it’s never gonna be perfect. You really got to drop into the progression as opposed to the perfection and the I think improv gives you that sort of mindset.

Katherine Beck
I love that progression. Instead of the perfection.

Brian Palermo
I stole it from someone I wish I could say

Katherine Beck
I was gonna say you’re brilliant, but you stole it from someone.

Brian Palermo
Well cut that out. Just say maybe it was me. Okay.

Katherine Beck
Brian, so if because you know you’re you’re a great teacher. If Anyone who is listening to this and wants to get in touch with you and maybe work with you on improv, how can they get ahold of you?

Brian Palermo
My website is Palermo improv training. And yeah, you’ll see what I got going on there. And if you can write me an email directly through that, and if I can help some kind of way, I would love to talk to you.

Katherine Beck
Amazing. And you work with both actors and corporate professionals as well. You said

Brian Palermo
Everybody I lately I do more corporates and specifically within that is a lot of science communication. So I work a lot of science institutions. JPL, which is NASA. I work I work for NASA, Catherine.

Katherine Beck
Right. Who did what? I’ve been to NASA but you actually work with people that work

Brian Palermo
at NASA. JPL campus here in Pasadena? I do. Yeah, I’m like, adjunct consultants. They call me all kind of weird stuff. But I go in like three, four times a year, work for them and National Park services and all these science groups, triple A s and ag you and blah, blah, blah, and, you know, ocean ocean. oceanographers and limb biologists. And I love it. Man, I love all these guys. I learned so much from these people. And my engineers. I love my engineers. Anyway, that’s a weird niche that I have is working with a lot of science communicators, and technologists.

Katherine Beck
Oh, that’s pretty cool. And it’s great that you’ve been able to come on the podcast and share your wealth of knowledge about improv and why it’s so great. Thank you so much, Brian. It’s been so fun chatting with you and catching up. I really appreciate your time.

Brian Palermo
You’re sowelcome. And I appreciate the offers really fun to see and catch up with you a bit. Katherine. Thank you.

Katherine Beck
Thank you so much, Brian, for sharing all of your information and a whole lot of laughs with our listeners. And actors, if you have not taken an improv class, let this be the source of information for you to go out and check out an improv class and explore this very useful skill. And before we wrap up today’s episode, I wanted to let you know that I’ve got a free training coming up on how to master the US self tape audition. All you need to do to sign up for this free training is head over to katherinebeck.com/training to save your spot. And if you love this episode, go ahead take a screenshot share it with me on Instagram stories and tag me in it @katherine_ beck_ , you can find me there, send me your story, or send me a DM with any questions or topics you’d like to hear on the podcast. And coming up next week on the show. We’re going to be talking about the best acting schools in the US and how you can join in on the training without leaving the comfort of your own home. Now make sure to share the show with all your actor friends. Let them know what’s coming up next week and invite them to tune in with you and learn how to become an all American Actor so you can be the working actor you dream to be until then go practice your American Accent. And I’ll see you back here next time.

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