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The Backline - An Improv Podcast
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The Backline - An Improv Podcast

Author: Rob Norman and Adam Cawley

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Canadian Comedy Award winners Rob Norman and Adam Cawley discuss weekly improv-based topics based on a theme. New episodes every Wednesday.
138 Episodes
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186 - Relationship

186 - Relationship

2020-05-2738:09

Sketchtown continues! This week, Rob and Adam discuss the make-up of relationship scenes, why they're funny, and why although they might underrated, continue to serve an important role in a sketch revue.
185 - Genre

185 - Genre

2020-05-2048:28

This week, Rob and Adam discuss styles, frame of reference, parody and finding the perfect vehicle for your premise. Also, the legacy of Second City founder Howard Alk!
185 - Satire

185 - Satire

2020-05-1338:45

Satire is a comedy tradition that is thousands of years old. This episode Adam and Rob discuss satire, authority, and saying what you mean without saying it. Also The Boys, the Annoyance Theater's President Bush is a Great Man, and the art of making maple syrup.
184 - Stakes

184 - Stakes

2020-05-0640:41

In this episode, Rob and Adam discuss comedy's relationship with tension, why stakes are important, and when you don't need to focus on stakes in a show. Also Adam's favourite instagram account, I Think You Should Leave, and Kurt Vonnegut.
183 - Structure

183 - Structure

2020-04-2939:35

Part Three of Sketchtown. This week, Adam and Rob discuss how to structure a scene, how tension is useful, and why knowing structure is necessary to build out a comedic premise. Also, Adam talks about his favourite Greek myth.
182 - Premise

182 - Premise

2020-04-2255:24

Sketchtown - Episode 2.  In this instalment, Rob and Adam discuss premises: how to find them, how to write them, and ultimately where does comedy comes from.  
With the pandemic upon us, Rob and Adam launch a new mini-series on The Backline all about sketch comedy, finding premises, and trying to write them down for the first time.  In this episode, Rob and Adam discuss their first experiences in their sketch troupe My First Crush, table reads vs. working on your feet, and the awkward feeling when you reimprovise a scene.
180 - Back in Action

180 - Back in Action

2020-04-0843:42

With the world in a state of lockdown, two grizzled warriors emerge from isolation to set you straight ... about using make believe to tell stories.  It's Season 6 of the Backline with Rob and Adam. This week, they discuss their thoughts, hopes, and anxieties about improvising in a post-pandemic world!
179 - Year End Review

179 - Year End Review

2019-12-1153:20

It's the Backline Finale! This week Rob and Adam reflect upon their top three moments of the year and follow-up with two listener questions! Thank you so much for your ongoing support. We will still be available to answer your questions via Facebook and Twitter @thebacklinepod. See you in a few months!
This week Rob and Adam, discuss the term "playing to the top of your intelligence" within scenes. Will they have conflicting opinions?  Will this be the topic that finally ends the podcast. Also, Adam confronts Rob about Spinegate 2019, they discuss their Los Angeles trip, and teaching in Vancouver.
177 - Bulldozing

177 - Bulldozing

2019-11-2042:04

This week we're talking about bulldozing. How much space should you take up onstage? What is the difference between attacking the scene and bulldozing over top of your partners ideas?  This week Rob and Adam, discuss how to know if you're a bulldozer and what can be done to be a better ensemble player.
176 - Solo Improv

176 - Solo Improv

2019-11-1525:43

This week Rob is very lonely talking about solo improvisation, while trying to record an entire episode by himself.  From monologues to ghosting to audience interaction - he'll give you all the new tools to try your own solo set tonight!
In this episode, Rob talks with two entrepreneurs who are building parallel improv companies in two very different countries. Martha Stortz (Toronto) and Sara Delile (Mexico) discuss what its like expanding their respective troupes into an international organization with classes, shows, and (maybe one day) a brick-and-mortar theatre ...
174 - Questions Only

174 - Questions Only

2019-10-3037:32

In this episode, Rob and Adam answer your questions! From Haroldfest to auditioning for a gig you don't even want to book, we'll tackle it all. Also, a brand new Backline show announced! 
Renowned improv curmudgeon Adam Cawley, shares with us his 5 tips for making improv shows run a little smoother from creating smooth transitions between acts to how to create a more communal atmosphere in shows - this episode has it all!
172 - Relaxation

172 - Relaxation

2019-10-1644:52

Improv is all about going with the flow. So why are we always so stressed out?  What does it take to relax?  This episode we chat about relaxation onstage and offstage, and the trouble stressed out play can bring.
171 - Break the Scene

171 - Break the Scene

2019-10-0349:08

Trying to find an ending can be tough.  Sometimes we're hoping for someone to sweep, or a joke big enough to bring down the lights.  Other times, we pray to the improv gods for some kind of divine intervention to save us from our own truly horrible scene. In this episode, Rob and Adam discuss creating momentum, pushing towards an end, and using heightening to control how long you're onstage.  Also, HBO's Succession, Malcolm Gladwell, and Adam talks about hockey on TWO different occasions. 
What happens when you're a new improviser joining an established team? Does placing a new player on a team with veterans promote or stunt their growth? What happens to experienced players who play with new players?
169 - Beatprov

169 - Beatprov

2019-09-1845:06

This week Rob and Adam walk you through a semi-scripted beatprov show. They chat about characters, story, and what makes beatprov different from conventional longform. Also on the podcast Mad Men, Doctor Who, physical fitness, and Just For Laughs Toronto.
Of course you want to learn technique and understand structure. But you don't want to make it look mechanical. You have take your "comedy math", internalize that work, and make it look easy. Also avoiding TIFF, Los Angeles living, and the end of Ontario Peach Season.
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Comments (1)

Amin Ghadirian

Nice episode. i can definitely use it.

Aug 21st
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