Doug Moe

I'm Doug Moe, an Actor/Comedian at the UCB Theatre NY where I also teach improv comedy.

I tweet here: @dougmoe

I write a Featured Tumblr blog on parenting, Man Vs Child
Recent Tweets @
Posts tagged "improv"


In this week’s episode, Doug Moe (Man v Child), Zhubin Parang (The Daily Show with Jon Stewart), & Natasha Rothwell (The Curfew) join Abra to create a world where gnomes heckle, cakes get made, but dicks don’t get touched at strip clubs, & Jackson Pollock steals scholarships.

Note: rumor has it that the person portraying “Amethyst” in the strip club started laughing mid-scene. The sound that was captured sounds like she became a monster in the studio. This is true. 

Check it out!  Really psyched to share this episode of Make Yourself Comfy with Abra Tabak.  It was a blast to record and it’s like having improv in your ears while you’re on the train or the bus or whatever.  Enjoy!


We’re excited to announce that Comedian CHARLA LAURISTON will be hosting the Hodapp and Rothwell Show this month!!!
- Doug Moe (Dough Moe is a Bad Dad, UCB’s Mother)- Rachel Rosenthal (North Coast, War Bride, Family Haircut)- Charlie Todd (Improv Everyhwere, The Curfew)- Meredith Hackman (The Saddest Sketch Show, HEADGEAR)- Bill DiPiero (Heist, Season Six)- Julie Sharbutt (Gravid Water, Grounds for Divorce)
The Hodapp and Rothwell Show 
May 10th at 7:00PM
The Peoples Improv Theater

Psyched to play this Friday!


We’re excited to announce that Comedian CHARLA LAURISTON will be hosting the Hodapp and Rothwell Show this month!!!


- Doug Moe (Dough Moe is a Bad Dad, UCB’s Mother)
- Rachel Rosenthal (North Coast, War Bride, Family Haircut)
- Charlie Todd (Improv Everyhwere, The Curfew)
- Meredith Hackman (The Saddest Sketch Show, HEADGEAR)
- Bill DiPiero (Heist, Season Six)
- Julie Sharbutt (Gravid Water, Grounds for Divorce)


The Hodapp and Rothwell Show

May 10th at 7:00PM

The Peoples Improv Theater


Psyched to play this Friday!

One of the things that keeps things fresh for yourself is doing projects that probably no one will care about but you.  DOOMED endeavors.  It’s important to tickle your own funny bone without worrying if the Funny Bone is marketable (I almost tricked myself into thinking that the title “Funny Bones” had never been used for a doctor comedy, but I’m not even gonna take the time to look that up).

Anyway, this is a side project that is DOOMED.  It’s self-referential, pretentious and maybe boring.  I have no place for it, I’m likely to change the title of it and make it a new Tumblr or a Facebook Group or make into a flip book, then a paper airplane.  It’s got no use.

I teach improv classes.  I don’t think that I’m some kind of pop-culture maven, nor do I endeavor to weave references from the outside world into my teaching just to seem smart.  But I guess I just am smart.  AND HANDSOME.

So:  here are some of the things that came up in my classes yesterday that I thought would be fun to write about, explain and research.  


I’m relieved that I had this one very nearly right.  I don’t remember why it came up, but a Potemkin Village is just a facade.  It’s a fake village put up to impress, but it’s just a facade.  It’s like the Western movie sets, where you just have the facades and nothing else.


Logan’s Run came up.  Logan’s Run is a particularly cheesy sci-fi movie from 1976.  It’s special effects look ridiculous, especially when you consider that Star Wars came out in 1977.  Here’s a favorite part that I remembered:  

A robot in an ice cave.  There’s something nice about that.

I couldn’t remember in class whether Logan’s Run dealt with killing people off at a certain age (it does).  I was thinking that Soylent Green was an example of this  but now I remember that people choose to go in the suicide booths in Soylent Green.  

It’s a shame that neither of these are on Netflix streaming.  These and other 70’s sci-fi movies are perfect Netflix fodder but who’s going to pay to see them?  I don’t have cable now, but it used to be that you could catch weird Sci-Fi blocks on TCM.  And A MILLION YEARS AGO when I was in college I had an excellent video store.  This place had a membership that gave you one free movie in a specified genre every time you rented.  So one month might be Westerns, another sci-fi, etc.  So while you were out getting your copy of Sleepless in Seattle (A MILLION YEARS AGO), you were incentivized to pick up Soylent Green as well.  

Someone really sounded way smarter than me by also mentioning The Ballad of Narayama, which I knew nothing about.  Save it for your own class!  


Rube Goldberg Machines are amazing.  My brother in law told me that in Oakland, CA they created a life sized Mousetrap Game.  And of course, there is video here:  Life Sized Mousetrap


A favorite of mine.    I love that Urban Dictionary has an entry on “Gilding the Lily” because it seems the antithesis of “urban.”  Gilding the Lily is a common improv scene problem; support from the back line that isn’t necessary, making characters who are about to be victimized exceedingly victimize-able, etc.  So if someone’s about to steal someone else’s wallet, the crook’s mark doesn’t need to be stage-whispering about how “clumsy they are with their wallet.”  Any honorable thief would pass by such a target!  Where’s the fun in that?  To steal that wallet would be like taking candy from a baby.  Why are you giving babies candy, anyway?!  And never ask a baby to hold your wallet.  Stealing a wallet from a baby is just like stealing candy from a baby!

Mister Mxyzptlk 

Mister Mxyzptlk came up for some reason.  I equated him, erroneously, to Rumpelstiltskin 

Both have tricky name problems.  For Rumpelstiltskin, you just have to figure out his name.  For Mister Mxyzptlk, you have to trick him into saying his name backwards.  There is no reason that should ever happen.  If that’s your weakness, you should be really careful.  I know Mister Mxyzptlk mainly from the Superfriends cartoon of my youth.  But it reminds me of the weakness of Young Miracleman from the Miracleman/Marvelman series.   Wow was that a good comic book.  I should get into comics again.  Right everyone?  That’s what I should probably do.  Right?


One of the most common categories of questions I get to this improv blog is the “I’m playing with someone bad. What do I do?” Variations include that so and so is sticking out amongst the group, or maybe is behind everyone else, or playing really broadly, or mugging at the audience, or is somehow…

Just to play Old Man on the Mountain here:  I was moaning to Kevin Dorff about a player I didn’t like on a team I was on once and his advice was don’t worry about “the guy.”  He said, you’ll get rid of “the guy” and there’ll be a new “the guy.”

As an improv teacher, I can see the judging of other people a mile away and the most successful people strap in and go for the ride.  They’re generous of spirit towards one another.  That’s the whole “treat each other as geniuses” part of it.  


If your coach notes you on content rather than scenework, get a new coach.

If your coach helps you find more ways to play the games you found in your scenes, and helps you explore them to the fullest, you have a great coach.

It is not a coaches job to tell you what is and isn’t…

I’m going to register mild disagreement with two points here:

1.  There aren’t any rules about what a coach should do for your group.  Of course, get rid of a coach you don’t like for any reason whatsoever.  No one is the boss of you!

2.  ”Content” is inseparable from scene work.  If the only note you ever get is about content, your coach might not be very helpful.  But I think it is well within a coach’s job to comment on the content of the scene.  As a teacher and as a coach, I’ve often had discussions about the content of a scene at hand.  Many times it’s not to guide people towards inoffensive material because I’m a prude or too uptight, it’s to help beginner improvisers understand how to deal with offensive material or weird scenes.  

There’s no intrinsic condescension in the discussion of taste.  In improv you can find yourself in many weird scenes, including ones that weren’t good because of the offensive material.  I wouldn’t assume that this is always some “intended choice.”  When beginner students of improv find themselves in a rape scene or a racist scene or any number of other difficult scenes, it’s my job to talk about how it was dealt with and whether the scene reflected their views or not.  People often feel thrown by a weird scene and need to chat it out.  I wouldn’t NOT do that because of some prohibition about “content.”

I’m not trying to slam the original poster, who had many valid points.  The main point that your coach should be working for you to get better is the most important.  I just want to point out that I think some discussion of content can be helpful and maybe necessary.  Use your coach for what you want to work on.

Comic Book Villains Take an Improv Class

Our superheroes’ greatest foes seem to be experts at witty banter. How do they fare in an improv comedy class?

Really fun video for Jest with a bunch of improv nerds dressed in funny outfits.


Improv can make you funnier, will likely make you a better actor, and could maybe even get you work. But one thing it will definitely do is make you better at having conversations.

You listen better, you speak to the heart of the matter more, you lie less, you speak more concisely.

But also, you…

First of all:  is re-blogging a form of self-promotion?  I hope so.

Second:  I love Will Hines.

Third:  I’m not sure I totally agree with the premise that improvisers are such great conversationalists.  They are probably better listeners overall probably and then you mix in self-promotion, the need for approval and a tendency to do bits and you have a pretty complicated picture.  

I think for me, I like to also mix the following into any conversation, especially with other improv people:  

  1. Doing bits about hating the person I actually like.
  2. Assessing whether I have any action I need to take on the information the other person is sharing because GTD (Getting Things Done) has forced me to do this.  If I have to do anything about any of this stuff, I will need to write it down moments after we talk.
  3. Fear that I don’t know the person’s name or that I am mis-remembering it.
  4. Feeling too old.

One thing I really agree with Will about is how frustrating it is to try to teach improv students to listen.  It’s a hard skill to acquire.  I think students have a hard time realizing how much might be meant by what someone said.  For example, player #1 might just lazily say ”Nice dress” but a power player #2 can assume that they meant ”I am in love with you” or “Normally you don’t look so nice.”

Actually, now I realize that this is a standard part of my conversational repertoire:  I pretend to assume meaning from the innocuous statement someone makes.  Example:

"Good to see you Doug"

"Oh!  Didn’t think I could stay up this late, huh?!?  I still get around! [see "Feeling Too Old" above]

Here’s an interesting thought (he says about his own thought):  maybe Everyone Else are good conversationalists and we (the minority Improvisers) are bad at doing it the right (bad) way!