Thursday, May 24, 2012

Improv: Just Learn It

"Many people have the idea that to improvise you have to get up on a stage and 'make it up.' While it’s true that that’s the bulk of it, it could also be said that the bulk of driving is pointing the car, so let’s allow five-year-olds to do it. Bad idea. To master the art of improv can take many years, and a great understanding, not just of improv’s tenets, but those of many different disciplines. Because there are fewer parameters than any other performing art, one must be prepared for anything that comes your way. That includes forays into the worlds of writing, directing, design, dance, music, singing, mime, stage combat, and especially acting. Once you’ve got all of these down, then you can say that improv is easy."
--- Jeff Catanese, Improv Review

I recently did a show with a local high school improv troupe.   I always enjoy seeing what young improvisers do on stage, considering that I started my sophomore year of high school.  (I'm also still considered a very young improvisor since most people that I know who do it are like... 30... and I haven't even hit 2 decades yet) Some of these kids were extremely talented.  It was quite surprising.... On the other hand.... well.... there were other people on the troupe.  

You could tell that a few of these kids thought that they didn't have to try to understand improv.  They thought that all you had to do was say "poop" (yes... poop.) on stage to get a laugh, and that was just good enough. I have an extreme distaste for anyone that takes this route on a stage.  If you are on a stage and the only word that comes to your mind is poop... you better damn well keep your mouth shut unless that scene calls for it. (And it really has to call for it...) If your the kind of person that thinks the only way to get a laugh is to use blue humor, (although I do admit sex can be funny if used appropriately) then get the hell off of any stage you were planning on performing and start a crappy stand up routine at a bar. 

Improv isn't that hard to learn, but that doesn't mean you can skip the learning process.

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