Improv Nonsense

By Randall | Improv Tips
19 Jan 2012

My friend Amy recently directed me to a tumblr by improviser Will Hines called Improv Nonsense. I think he has some really great content, and added his blog to my list of links. His two most recent entries are about teaching improv, something that speaks to me as I recently TAed a level one class. You learn a lot from teaching improv to other people, and it fueled my passion for the art.

In the first part of his interview Will, Chris Gethard makes two points that I wanted to share. First:

Q: What should a 101 class feel like?

It should feel like the adrenaline rush of realizing there are likeminded people participating in an artform truly devoted to collaboration and open-mindedness. It should be fun and exhilarating, not because we’re faking it, but because this stuff is the most fun thing in the world.

The amazing part of teaching level 1 improv is watching the transformation of your students as they accept each other, realize that they can indeed do improv, and start putting together really interesting and engaging scenes. Collaboration feels so natural in improv once you’ve been doing it for a while, even if you’re playing with someone you just met.

And secondly:

When done well, improv should feel easy. Remember that we are a lazy people. We don’t write things down. We don’t do second drafts. We show up in old jeans and charge people money. Let’s embrace that we want it to be easy. So many scenes run into trouble when we pass on fun, simple, clear, easy ideas and over-complicate things through too much talking and not enough listening. Easy, simple games can still be handled in a smart fashion.

A friend of mine once told me that what he loves about improv is when someone states the obvious. He was watching a scene once, in Antarctica, and it was a tagout game where different improvisers were taking turns describing the scene. After several adjectives where thrown out (bleak, gray, desolate, open) someone finally said the thing on everyone’s mind – cold, and the audience laughed. It was what they were all thinking and just waiting for someone to say. Not saying it builds tension as everyone starts to secretly wonder “And cold right…someone’s gotta say cold. I mean, Antarctica is the coldest place on Earth…isn’t it?” Sometimes, going for the obvious answer will connect most with the audience and really get them to invest in the reality of the scene.


One Comment

  1. Amy says:

    Hey that’s me!

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