I don’t tend to get aggravated much, especially when it comes to the ideas and the flourishing of people with the capacity to do so, which is a huge reason for my love of all things improvised. If a man/woman is witty enough to create pitch perfect improv it really does make me feel all warm and tingley inside. But if certain people are ruining that for those with such a deep love for it, it aggravates me (like the star wars fans felt for the prequels).
Improvisation, My Love
I have got plenty of stories of success and tragedy on stage during my improvisation career. I was part of a class (to which I miss those lessons so much now and wish I never left them) that would do comedy improvisation for an hour and a half every Friday. It gave me a chance to flourish and fine tune my improvisation while being surrounded by those who feel the same way, or those who enjoyed taking a back seat and watch me make a toilet dick of myself. It really did give me a feeling of satisfaction when I was on stage and made people laugh through my sudden spurts of improvised remedies to the high expectations of an audience who are used to it to all (call them the upper echelons of improvised thought).
I am in love with the shows containing improvisation and games similar to which I have played (shows like Whose Line is it Anyway and Mock the Week who were produced by Dan Patterson). Which makes it all the more difficult to deal with when I witness pitch perfect copycats of jokes from those shows. As much as originality is so difficult, if it stinks of someone else’s stink, then I will be questioning my wife to where she’s been for the last 20minutes (dying on stage possibly?).
Improvisational Sins, Top 3
A sin to which I have been guilty for is that improvisation is a team effort in games that require conversation. Don’t instantly try to upstage or take over the stage if you’re with someone who can’t keep up with you. Help them and if it doesn’t work then try and work with them subliminally by getting them to say things to which you can react in a preposterous manner, anything to get the juices flowing. I’ve worked with people who weren’t as imaginative or on the same wave length but they ended up being the stars because they were the real straight man of the situation. If you make it into an upstaging competition then it could either make the audience uncomfortable or it’ll produce some genius stuff. Brad Sherwood does it a lot in Whose Line is It Anyway US and quite a lot of the time it works out because the people he works with can keep up or even do better. When he’s with someone who can’t, it just makes it look a bit rough half the time (instead of none of the time). I’ve skipped the steps with people who weren’t with it at the time and I got told off for it (to which I was outraged at the time but now understand why, oh realisation you heavy handed Panda).
Similar to stand up, joke stealing is a huge sin. I did a show couple of years ago, during that show we played a game called worlds worst (an example would be worlds worst speech at a funeral etc), a friend of mine then said 3 jokes during it that were word for word from Mock the Week. Now, not only did he look like an arse hole in front of those who have watched the show, but he then made us all look like arse holes cause it buried the perception into their mind that all of it was somewhat planned or stolen. Even when I went out into the foyer after the show I heard murmurs that quite a lot of the jokes were stolen, which they weren’t it was just from that one guy. I pride myself on my mind working a million miles a second and because I participate so much then I will take it to heart to be told all my stuff came from someone else. I did get him back after though when we played a game called props and he did a joke and then I got up, grabbed a broom and said I was sweeping away his failed jokes then, adding the nail to the coffin, by saying “oh wait nothing is there anyway”. He’s a great guy and now he’s older, he has potential to be a great stand up, but if you do a sin on stage I will make you pay, whether it be another time, or even on stage (don’t fear the reaper, just avoid meeting him by having your comedy 5 a day).
This sin is what aggravates me the most. Planning a game to the extent that renders the people involved as somewhat “creative prisoners”. The embodiment of improvisation is for it to be unpredictable, for only quick ideas to exist and planning to only be done by the host for order purposes and not for creative imposing. I react more outraged when I know certain games have been planned then someone making a sex joke about my cat (to which doesn’t exist, which could be why I don’t react). It’s a huge slap in the face to the audience and a big hammer blow to the performers (to which it makes me feel so angry for). I’ve heard about shows that have boasted its improvised and people have come out incredibly happy and wanting to see it again, so they go the second night and it’s exactly the same. Either call it improvised because all of it is improvised or don’t call it improvised. You’re taking the audience for granted, your offending the participants and your spitting on the forefathers of improvisation.
My love of improvisation is as deep as it comes. I’ve been looking for somewhere else to “hang my hat” so if anyone knows a good place then I’d love to check it out, as long as the improvisation isn’t belittled by the sins above. Nothing disgusts me more then to see the things I love taken advantage of. If you fear that the improvisation will suck even though there are at least two dependable people in it, then let it happen and see where it will go, the audience is in it as much as the participants.
I apologise if you were expecting a funny blog as the title will have the words improvisation in it. I’ve just had a bit of a problem that has frustrated me and I needed to get it out there (venting on a blog? EEEEEMMOOOOOOOOOOOOO)
I will of course go into my improvisation experiences a little more on another blog, something involving 2 fantastic people to work with and the vow to impregnate everyone in the audience even though they didn’t come to see us (it was a multiple company showcase, not a singular one). Love you all!