The Invocation

Last week a friend of mine called. He was someone I used to coach in Chicago. He now lives in Minneapolis and wanted some advice about coaching a group who wanted to learn the Invocation. It’s an improv exercise that is sometimes used as an opening for improv forms like Harold. We talked for an hour about the Invocation, about Del Close (the guy who came up with the exercise) and about other similar exercises.

I thought it might make a good journal entry to write down a lot of the things that we went over in the conversation. But before I got too far into the entry, I decided to look it up on the IRC Improv Wiki to see if anyone had written anything about it. It turns out I had already written a pretty comprehensive explanation of the exercise there.

So instead of rewriting that, I’ll first show you this video I found on youtube. It’s an animation by Shaun Clayton of a song writtend and performed by Michelle Edwards. I think they did a great job of capturing the spirit of what Del what was after. If you want to learn more about them after you watch the video, go over to the IRC Improv Wiki and read about the Invocation there.

3 thoughts on “The Invocation”

  1. Hey Kevin, I had a question about the invocation. In the IRC Improv Wiki example using “shoe” as the suggestion, several shoes are described for a single invocation: dress shoe, sneaker, jackboot and galosh. I thought the idea of an invocation was to create a single entity, in this case a specific shoe, and elevate it to the status of a god. The Wiki example seems to elevate the idea of shoes, instead.

    I’m curious about your thoughts on this. Also, I realize this is a trivial quibble and mostly a matter of personal preference.

    Thanks and I really enjoy your blog. Best.

  2. I think it can be done either way. My feeling is that if you take shoe as your suggestion and only focus on one specific shoe (instead of the broader idea of shoe), you might not be able to create enough information to use it as an opening. Also, I would think that concentrating on one specific shoe might make for a much shorter invocation. I’d say, try it both ways and see how you like it. Maybe try it by creating three shoes that thread through the opening and each shoe inspires a different first beat of the Harold.

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