The Complete Improvisor Blog
Analysis, thoughts and opinions of longform improvisation

Moving Day!

Thank you for following this blog. It will continue at a new location. This site will remain active for archival purposes only.

The first new post you will see is about the Chicago Improv Studio, a new improv training center I have started. It’s purpose is to explore the ideas expressed in this blog. Thank you for reading it.

Posted by on May 19th, 2014 :: Filed under Uncategorized

Paying Your Dues

I never liked the expression “pay your dues”. It comes up in our business when we don’t get cast in a show or a commercial regardless of how well we might have auditioned. We’re told that we haven’t paid our dues. I think it’s so distasteful because it implies that even though you have the talent and ability for something it is being denied you because of the arbitrary and poorly defined cocnept of dues. Who are they paid to? What is their approximate dollar value? Before you vow that you will never make anyone pay dues when you’re in charge realize that you already make people pay dues all the time.

This is an experiment I did with my class last week. There were 15 students and I asked them about how likely they would be to try out a new restaurant under certian circumstances. How willing would you be to try a restaurant you’ve never been to if…

Circumstance #1 …you are going out with your close friend you see all the time. 13 of 15 students said yes, they’d go to a place the’ve never been to before.

Circumstance #2 …you have an old friend in town that has never been to the city. 10 of 15 said yes.

Circumstance #3 …your folks are in town. 8 of 15, just over 50% said they’d try a new restaurant with thier out-of-town family.

Circumstance #4 …your significant others parents are in town and this is the first time your are meeting them. Only 5 of the 15 students would risk an unproven restaurant.

Circumstance #5 …a mysterious stranger is your dinner guest and if he has a good meal he’ll pay you $10,000. For the chance to win 10 grand only 2 people said they’d take the mysterious stanger to a place they haven’t been to and properly vetted. (I guess while I’ve never been to Charlie Trotter’s it would be worth dropping a couple hundred bucks a plate for a chance at $10,000.)

As the preceived importance of a good meal goes up we find it more difficult to trust new restaurants. Why? Because they haven’t paid their dues. How does a restaurant pay it’s dues? By having people eat there and have a good time. They pass the word along and maybe give it a good Yelp review. Same thing with us  s performers, we pay our dues by making sure people have a nice time with us. As we interact with people onstage and off we become a known quantity. The value of a known quantity may supsercede it’s value as a restaurant or an actor or whatever. I’m sure there are many unkowns in Hollywood that could act rings around Tom Arnold. His value is less in his abilities and more in the fact that when you hire Tom Arnold you get the peace of mind knowing exactly what you’ll get.

So you just moved to Chicago. You’re a super nice person and honest and generous and talented but when you show up at your first Second City audition, as strange as it may sound, you are a very risky choice.

***Please post your comments and questions here or email me at

Posted by on November 30th, 2011 :: Filed under Uncategorized

Classic Post: Some Love for Sweep Edits

Originally published September 2009

When I was a boy (the 80s) late-night and odd-hour TV programming consisted mostly of old movies. I liked the horror movies. I could change the channel (there was no on-screen program guide) and tell in a matter of seconds if the movie I landed on was a horror movie. Usually I would recognize an actor. Vincent Price, Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing. I didn’t know their names but I knew their faces; they were safe bets that the movie I was watching would very soon have a mummy (The Mummy, 1959) or a floating skull (The Skull, 1965) or a monster that lives in your back and is the physical manifestation of the tingling sensation that runs down your spine when you get scared (The Tingler, 1959). Nowadays late-night TV is mostly infomercials for colon cleansers and get-rich-quick real estate scams. I will admit that I do like the Knife Show infomercial but it’s not quite the knife shows I liked growing up.

Halloween is a month away. That means that the TV networks will begin running Halloween themed TV shows and, of most interest to me, some of those old horror movies that I watched growing up. And just like when I was growing up, I can tell the moment the channel changes that I am watching a horror movie. I bet you can too. You don’t even have to hear much dialog to start getting that deep sense that something terrible is about to happen. You just know. So what makes a horror movie a horror movie?  It’s more than the script, right?

The script plays a part but it’s the lighting, the music and the direction that tell us right away we are watching a horror movie. It would be fun to take a romantic comedy script and shoot it with moody lighting and tense music and close-up facial reaction shots. How the director chooses the shots and puts a movie together sets the mood and puts the audience in a place to be scared or excited or feel like crying.

A movie director (actually editor, I guess) has a wide range of editing techniques they can use to assemble the parts of their story. There’s the fade to black, hold on black and fade up on another image. There’s the cross fade from one image to another. They can cut from a crying baby to the ringing telephone. Sometimes the camera will zoom in super tight until the image gets blurry and then pull back out to reveal the next image. Which one should the director pick?  Depends on the two shots they are linking together and the mood they wish to convey. Is this a horror movie or a rom-com?

Imagine a fast paced chase scene, maybe the mine cart chase in Temple of Doom, linked entirely by fade to black, hold on black, fade up edits. It’s pace would be ruined (it would also take forever to complete). Maybe it would be artistic but it would be at the expense of any sense of action. Straight cuts help keep the action alive. If you wanted to show a somber moment and maybe the passage of time you might choose the fade/hold/fade up edit.

In our improv world some people hate sweep edits. They think they are lazy and boring and uninteresting and refuse to do them on principle. To all those people I sincerely hope a situation comes up in a show where the most artistic, most compelling and most energy-forwarding editing choice would be a sweep. And I hope you do something else and your show suffers for it. That was mean; I’m sorry. But the moment should be telling us what edit to choose and not a preconceived idea about what is cool or right or better. Same thing goes with doing full cast flourishes over your edits (maybe taking the last word said in the scene and repeating it as the whole cast runs across stage). Listen to your show. What is it asking for?  Is it a horror movie or a drama or a French art flick?

*** Please feel free to check out the movies listed above. I won’t make any promises. If you want to see something so bad it really is bad check out Blood Feast. It is credited with being the first true slasher movie. Before Jason and Freddy there was an Egyptian caterer.


Posted by on September 29th, 2011 :: Filed under Uncategorized

The Move Tax

In my last post I made the point that many of the “never do” scenes are quite doable. Those  few scenes aren’t the only things with never-do labels, there are also some never-do moves:

-Walking on to a scene as a tv/movie director, “…and cut!”

-Opposite impulse ,”Grandma’s dead, hooray!”

-Turning a confusing scene into an unsuccessful attempt at sexual role play, “Take of the Obama mask honey, this isn’t working.”

-Making your partner crazy, “Did you forget to take your pills this morning?!”

-Straight up commitive* denial, “That’s not an airplane, it’s a bath tub.”

You can make all those moves work but you must pay the tax. The tax you have to pay is that you must now live in the new reality that your move has created. Players a very willing to turn a confusing scene into poor sexual role play (it’ll get a laugh) but they aren’t prepared to live in the sincere emotional space experienced by a couple that are having bedroom problems. Hey, it’s funny that your sister forgot to take her meds but as anyone who has had to deal with a person who forgot their meds will tell you the mere realization that someone is off their medication isn’t a punch line but the tip of a flaming iceberg. Players will drop those lines, soak in the laugh but then quickly retreat from them.

“You gotta know the rules before you can break them.” I never liked that expression. It puts the whole notion of rules in jeopardy if they will eventually be broken. I prefer to say that some scenes are really easy to get into but really hard to get out of. What all those above moves have in common is that they will probably get a laugh from the audience, that makes them attractive to a player. What makes them unattractive to an experienced player is the high tax that comes with them.

If there are high tax moves there must also be low tax moves. Living the simple reality of a scene is a low tax move, “Grandma’s dead, how terrible.”

*In an old post I wrote about committed vs. omitted denial. I’ll dig it up and re-post it.

Posted by on September 23rd, 2011 :: Filed under Uncategorized

Not Tampa, Not Clearwarer, Not St. Pete…..

I grew up in Winter Park, Florida and went to college 2 hours north in Gainesville.  I drove back and forth quite a bit, it’s an easy drive. West on I-4 following signs towards Tampa. Take the Turnpike north following signs to Wildwood. Merge to I-75, following the signs towards Ocala. Simple. Now imagine if the signs didn’t say which way you were headed but which way you weren’t. Instead of “Ocala” a sign might say “Not Tampa, Not Clearwarer, Not St. Pete…”.

It’s easy to teach from a restrictive point of view. Many of the classic improv rules are restrictive: don’t say no, don’t ask questions, don’t do transaction or teaching scenes. We think we’re doing people a favor when we say don’t do this one thing but when faced with a million choices illiminating one isn’t much help.  At the heart of each of those rules is a kernel of wisdom that we need to frame in a positive fashion.

Say yes instead of don’t say no is an easy one. Provide information (or simply talk!) instead of don’t ask questions, also straight forward. What about avoiding transaction and teaching scenes? What truth gave us those rules and what positive choices should it inspire? How about this: express how you feel about what’s going on. How does it feel to get this transaction done? Are you happy to be teaching the other person? That’s why teaching and transaction scenes are percieved to be mistakes. They are flat and informational without being alive. So make them alive.

Here’s an example:

-Dave: I’ve got that big date tonight and I’m having trouble tying my tie. Would you help me, Glen?

-Glen: Sure.

(Glen stands behind Dave and begins demonstrating how to tie a necktie.)

Dave needs to ask himself how he feels about this situation and communicate that choice.  Here are some examples:

-Dave (super nervous): Um, you ever, um, kiss a girl before?

-Glen: Oh boy.

-Dave ‘Cuz I have, loads of times.  


-Dave (sexy) That feels good, daddy like.

-Glen (confused): Ummm…

-Dave (leaning back): shhh, shhh, shhh. Keep tying.


-Dave (jittery): Why are you behind me?!?

-Glen (firm): I can’t tie it facing you, I have to do it like I’m doing it for myself.

-Dave: Oh no! Will she see that it’s tied for you and not me?!?

Three quick examples. Scenes are about people, always. Transactions and teaching scenes seduce us, they are easily defined and simple to live inside.  They are a challenge because we think we have something solid (selling shoes or tutoring math homwork) when in actuality what we have doesn’t do us much good.  

***Your comments are always welcome. Please subscribe. I promise to be write more often. Questions can be sent to

Posted by on September 7th, 2011 :: Filed under Uncategorized

Classic Post: Kent Clark

Originally posted July 14, 2006

Behind iO is an alley. Classic, big city alley. When the weather is nice and the stink isn’t too bad improv teams like to go out back and warm up before shows. Many times the warm-ups are for an audience of drunk Cubs fans and bums. Last night while my team was warming up, a bum decided that our warm-up was simple enough that he’d like to play with us.

I came up with this exercise out of the frustration of seeing improvisers being overly concerned with saying funny or cute or original things. Even in the best scenes the ratio of non-laugh-getting lines to laugh-getting lines is about, minimum, two-to-one. Two non-laugh-getting lines for every one laugh-getting line. And those are the wet-your-pants, once a year funny scenes. The ratio in a strong, well-played, funny scene is closer to five to one, maybe. The beginnings of all scenes are always slanted towards not-laugh lines. You could say that “TJ and Dave,” a show that is consistently a favorite among students, operates at a ten to one ratio. I admire the courage and vision of the young improvisers I teach, trying to get a laugh on every line. It’s cute. Like a cat that thinks the birds on TV are real.

Truthfully we spend most of our time onstage not being funny. This isn’t a problem; it’s a reality of our work that we need to embrace. So what do we say when we don’t have anything funny to say? Well, who are you? A baker? A stoner? A dentist? Say what that person might say in that moment.  If you’re playing the moment it’s easy.  If your outside of the moment, analyzing the humor and trying to think of funny things to say it can be difficult.

The exercise asks each person in the group in turn to name six things that a person in a particular job or relationship might say. It must be indicative of the profession and it can’t be funny. For instance, name six things a bank teller might say: Is this for deposit or cash? Would you like a lollipop for your son? I’m sorry but this is the commercial transaction line. And so forth. Name six things an aunt might say: You’ve grown so much. Did you know I’m your mother’s sister? Easy. Things like “I hate my job” don’t really count, it could be any job.  This line: “I hate my my job at this bank. I’m only here ‘cuz my dad is the vice president.” would be great!

The drunk vagrant in the alley began counting along as each of us said our six things. He even busted some people who made weaker choices. Is this exercise so simple that even a random street person could jump right in midstream and play along? Somewhere in heaven Viola Spolin and Jane Addams are giving each other a high five. At the end he goes “My turn.” We’re game, let’s do it. We ask him, “What are six things Superman would say?”

“Um… Fly…. Kent Clark, no, Clark Kent….Metropolis….”

I guess he didn’t get it after all. None of us corrected him, he was having a good time. And if improv isn’t about having fun then why are we even doing it?

Posted by on February 8th, 2011 :: Filed under Uncategorized

Improv isn’t Chess, it’s …?

Improv instruction makes heavy use of  analogies.  Some cursory digging on the internet found tool belts, jazz, and even a hockey analogies (Montreal, of course!).  These are used to help explain the process.  Chess references are used when discussing the I-move/you-move aspect of improv.  One actor says something the other hears it, processes it and makes their counter-move.  Watching skilled players can be like watching chess champions attacking and withdrawing, feigning and counter-attacking.  Chess, however is an imperfect model.  The fact that it’s a game of high prestige (and it appeals to our egos to be associated with it) makes this next bit of news sting that much more.  Improv is more akin to the game Battleship than it is chess.  A game for children who don’t even have to be particularly smart.  Electronic or travel… doesn’t matter.

Where some of the analogies fall short is that they assume improv moves to have predictable outcomes.  If I call my scene partner Mom, they’re my mother, right?  Deterministic is the word to describe that kind of behavior.  Baking is deterministic.  There is a recipe that gives a certain result and you can predict accurately what will happen if you change an ingredient or amount.  Adding more sugar will make your cake sweater and darker in color.  Using imitation butter will ruin whatever you bake with it.  But my partner is still my mother, correct?

Chess is a deterministic game.  Each move is solely affected by the previous moves.   Expert players can even predict the results of their moves and plot out their next moves three or four in advance.  At no point is a game of well played chess random.  From the word go the players are making informed choices.  There are a finite number of opening moves in chess and each one has a name like “The Sicilian Gambit” or whatever.

So why Battleship?  First let’s talk about the Manhattan Project, the think tank that gave us the atomic bomb.  I haven’t tried to figure out exactly what happens to all of the neutrons that get released when an atom of Uranium rips apart but I feel safe in saying it’s not a simple problem.  Enrico Fermi likened it to trying to figure out the odds that any given game of solitaire would be winnable.  (Okay, 52 cards X, lain out in pattern Y, must reach piles Z1 through Z4 in sequential order… A-bomb explodes!)  It would be much simpler to play 100 hands of solitaire and count how many times you win.  It’s called a Monte Carlo method and it works best with systems that have a large number of variables that are coupled to one another.  Make a serious of random guesses and then analyze the results.   We do it all the time when we improvise without thinking about it.

These types of highly variable systems are called stochastic.  They have fixed rules and some element of randomness.   Improv scenes are full of random yet coupled events and so is Battleship.  It is a stochastic game.  You could be a grand champion or my 7 year old niece and your first move will be a complete guess.  But after several random samples a picture of your opponents fleet emerges.  Your guesses become less random as you audition candidate solutions.  It’s this process of converging on an answer through probing guesses rather than informed moves that I believe mirrors how we play improv scenes.

Informed moves are the domain of tool belts and chess.  In situation A, do move B.  I was given this advice a long time ago: “When your partner plays crazy give them high status.”  It isn’t bad advice but it implies that improv is a series of discrete problems with discrete solutions.  I don’t think that we play like that.   When we play we make probing guesses and probing guesses are the domain of Battleship.

The first moments of a scene are the best place to see this probing.  The rate of dialog is low as the players make trepidations random shots.  (A note here would be to accept the fact that your first shots are random and will always be regardless of your skill level so just charge ahead.)  As the picture of the scene opens the players consider candidate solutions (We’re either in a cave or a gymnasium and I’m fairly certain she’s my mother).  These are tested with each line until the players agree upon the actual scene (We’re in a cave and she’s my aunt.  Got it!).

So improv is stochastic and not deterministic.  How can that knowledge help us?  Can we design stochastic exercises?  I’m still thinking about it but certain exercises and/or how those exercises are led take a more deterministic view of improv.  Flatly forbidding questions or requiring the speaking of “yes, and” imply that doing X or not doing Y will determine the success or failure of your scene.  They ignore the random nature of the work.  It would be like telling someone that there is a trick to winning Battleship.   Perhaps an exercise that asks the participants to look at random data points and construct a context would more closely resemble the way we think when we play.  Perhaps the lessons learned from having to play a scene full of the word no and questions is more valuable than stepping outside of the moment to censor yourself.

One more thing: don’t get married to your first line is a scene, its just a random guess

Posted by on January 26th, 2011 :: Filed under Uncategorized

You Don’t Have to Yell

Oh, to be able to tap into the freedom of thought and play we had when we were children.  They don’t judge when they play.  They just live.  And sometimes cry if they don’t get their way.  And babble incoherently. They have a complete lack of responsibility and respect and outside of having to keep their rooms clean are generally waited on hand and foot.  I think the similarities between good improv and childhood play are more coincidental than causal.  More on that later, perhaps.  Maybe it’s time to put the child deification baby to bed.

But not quite yet.  Tonight, little Billy, you can stay up past Love Boat and see not just the title sequence of Fantasy Island but the whole show.

Learning improv can be like learning a new language, but it’s one we already know or actually knew.  That’s the irony and the source of the child worship; we’re re-learning how to pretend, something we did with ease as children.  We leave work, come to improv class and are asked to get on stage and pretend we’re at work.  What’s amazing is that some people are noticeably better at pretending to be something they already are than others.  How strange is that?

Like a child learning to communicate there are certain stages of development many of us go through learning to improvise.  One stage is “yelling things makes them important”.   Yelling is product of players being instructed to have strong feelings about what’s going on.  React! we are told.  But how?  Strong is confused for loud.  React! becomes a command to scream.  No shame, it’s a common point of confusion.  The notion that a boy might have very strong feelings for a girl at school but plays it totally low key is easy to understand but difficult in practice.  It happens in real life all of the time.  We have strong emotions but we meter or guard them and they simmer under the surface.  It makes us interesting to watch.  It’s also hard to just do.  It takes time to see that it is a strong or bold choice has nothing to do with vocal volume or how big you gesture.

What do you do if you are in a scene with someone yelling and you feel it’s inappropriate or shallow?  Tell them that.  “You don’t have to yell.”  What they are yelling about (or crying about or being reserved about) may not bare as much improv fruit as the fact that they are yelling (or crying or being reserved).  You can ask them, like you might one of your friends, why do they feel the need to yell.  “This must be very important to you if you are yelling.”  If it’s happening on stage you can reference it just as you would in life.

***Keep your comments and questions coming!***

Posted by on January 13th, 2011 :: Filed under Uncategorized

Classic Post: Random Precision

Originally posted August 2006

I feel like a real snot saying that I have a favorite painter, but I do.  Granted, I have not studied art as thoroughly as perhaps I should before I declare that I have seen enough to know who I think is the best.  My favorite artist is Gerhard Richter.

He’s still alive, I think. He has a series of paintings that appear to be blurred photographs.  I saw at an exhibition some pictures of him working on one of his blurred images.  He’d take a completely mundane, in-focus, family-type photo, use it as a model, and paint it on canvas… intentionally blurred. What struck me was that he’d use photos that were almost vulgar in their normalcy and that the blurring effect would be so uniform. At first glance I believed I was looking at a giant out of focus photograph from some anonymous family album, not an oil painting on canvas.

Having to be true to the model photo yet artistically altering it and having the alterations be so precise – it’s a collision of chaos and order.  It’s an example of both unbounded artistic expression and military discipline.

Another excellent example of this collision is a painting by Salvador Dali titled “A Chemist Lifting with Extreme Precaution the Cuticle of a Grand Piano.” I saw this painting at the Art Institute eight years ago; it had such an effect on me that I have been describing it to people ever since. The background is a classic Dali dreamscape.  In the foreground is some guy but in the midground is a Chemist; he isn’t labeled as such but from contextual clues and the title I’ll assume he is.  Now imagine an invisible piano covered by a tightly fitted sheet that molds into every corner.  The sheet is painted to look exactly a piano.  In the painting the Chemist is lifting the corner of this sheet, removing it from an invisible piano.  As it is removed the sheet folds and bends and drapes, distorting the piano image painted on it.

It’s not a piano-esque object, or a vaguely feminine shape with black and white bars on it. It is an 88-keyed grand piano, drawn as well as in any still-life, with its cuticle being removed.  He may have even broken out a ruler and straight edge to get it to look exactly right. You can say Dali was a weirdo and just painted crazy, quasi-sexual nothings and called them art but the discipline and skill to draw a believable rendering of a “piano skin” demonstrates true ability.  The order of the precisely drawn piano, the chaos of it coming undone.

In our improv world how can we tilt reality or portray crazy premises if we can’t portray life-like scenarios? It’s in the contrast of the absurd and the real that comedy and art lives.  It’s not about the degree of absurdity; it’s the distance between the absurdity and the reality that matters.  A Nazi vampire shoe salesman, in a world of Nazi vampires, is just a shoe salesman. We can create comedy by pushing a crazy character further but we can also do it by making our reality more realistic.

Creating believable realities isn’t glamorous. When young improvisers tell about shows they’ve seen they rarely mention the skill and discipline that went into creating simple, believable contexts.  They tell me about the hilarious Nazi vampires.  And just like Dali or Richter, in order to create maximum contrast, we may need to hold off on the wacky, break out the pencil and straight edge and draw some simple guide lines for ourselves.

Posted by on January 7th, 2011 :: Filed under Uncategorized

Limited Resources

Here is a common question I get from people that live in places other than Chicago, New York or LA.  How can I make up for my small communities lack of access to the amount of and quality of your improv resources?  Firstly, this is only true to a degree, there are many communities outside of the big 3 that have thriving, vibrant and healthy communities that are doing quite well, thank you.  Generally speaking though Chicago has a larger number of quality shows of more varied styles than anywhere in the world.

Some things to think about before you go looking:

There are no right answers.  In searching for resources (books, workshops, teachers, videos etc…) realize that everything out there is skewed towards one style or the other.  And style should never be confused with right and wrong.

The advantage that the big communities have is a matter of scale, not one of talent.  I’ve been to some great cities that, pound for pound, have stronger players than here in Chicago.  Be proud of that.  You probably get more stage time than some teams here at iO.  The larger community in Chicago (or New York or L.A.) means that there are a larger number of strong players and while small communities may have one brilliant/savant player, the big cities have several.   Same thing with teachers.  Smaller theaters may be blessed with one or two gurus, Chicago has a good 6 or 10.

Your community is different than all others.  What are it’s strengths?  What style of play suits it? What do your audiences expect?  Improv is huge tent and you don’t have to act like some other group to be let in.

Okay, that being said here are some ideas to overcome a possible resource deficit:

Research:  While there aren’t many books about longform improv in a formal sense there are books that are tangentially related.  “On Acting” by Sanford Meisner and the last half of “Audition” by Michael Shurtleff are from the acting world.  While I haven’t read “Games People Play” by Eric Berne I’ve heard good things.  David Mamet also has a fair number of non-fiction books that I’ve enjoyed and found applicable.  Most major improv communities and/or theaters have internet message boards.  Join up, be active.

Explore improv:  I was working with an improv group in  Canbera, Australia last March and was impressed to see just how much they do with so little.  They only have 2 nights of shows every 8 weeks and few opportunities to rehearse but rather than playing it safe and presenting the same shows over and over again they create new forms for each of their 2-night show runs.  You can be your own resource when you work to uncover things on your own.

Field trips to see shows:  There are strong theaters in every region of the country.  Load up the van and go check them out.  I bet if you were to contact them first they’d be more than happy to help out and maybe set up a workshop or two.

Festivals:  I wouldn’t have ever moved to Chicago if I hadn’t seen and met players from here at improv festivals.

Bring in instructors:  Cheaper than taking the class out into the field, try bringing an export to you.  Most improvisers are pretty approachable and would be more than happy to discuss an out of town workshop or two.   ( … what’s that doing here?)

Intensives:  If you’ve got a whole week free in your schedule or five weeks free in the summer many theaters offer multi-day, all-day intensives. They can have a summer camp vibe to them and usually include show passes which can be as valuable as the classes.

Encourage innovation:  This can be difficult for theaters that have to sell out shows just to stay afloat but if you’ve got just one night free that you can give over to a group of players to do whatever they want it can pay dividends.  Some of the sharpest, most influential play at iO happens during these vanity shows at weird times on weird days.   My own show, 3033, plays Sunday night at 11pm.  We don’t do much to pay the bills but (I hope) we inspire and energize young players and our peers.

That’s it.  Hope that’s helpful

*** Your comments and questions are always welcomed at

Posted by on December 30th, 2010 :: Filed under Uncategorized