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carolineeand:

improvisorsimprovisor:




Rebloggable version
Well, yeah, I think it is. I love eating Twinkies and I have eaten one as recently as a few weeks ago. They’re sweet and sugary and completely bad for me. Just because it makes me feel good, it doesn’t mean I should ingest it.
I think the worst part about poor improv is that it’s uncommitted. I like to believe that anything can be done in improv if we all agree that we’re doing it and we commit to it. So making dumb jokes or making a comment isn’t deadly… it can be fun if everyone’s on board. Probably not best for every group, every show, or every scene, but it can be done.
I saw a group last year use “finger guns” and had a helluva fun time messing around with each other. They probably made every “sin” of improv, but the show was great to watch. Why? Because they were committed to their anarchic spirit, and they were truly having fun doing it. The show was still full of mutual respect for the other performer. They were Yes-Anding not only the details of the scene, but also the underlying crazy energy.
Now, if all of this commenting, cheap laughs, and finger guns came from a place of non-commitment, I’d say there’s a problem. When a performer is so unsure and untrusting in the power of Yes-And that they actively disrespect the show and their scene partners, then yes, we’re doing bad improv. 
Thanks for the question. What do you think?




Ask improvisorsimprovisor a question

Interesting perspective. Commitment to being non-committed. So meta.
Basically I saw a show last night that had a TON of laughs (I was for sure laughing) where they were so non-committed as to actually say “Uh, we have time for another scene I think” while on stage. And it’s frustrating as a student because I like to see technique pay off in laughs because it inspires me to work harder and harder.
I guess improv is just as broad of a world as music or art. Puccini can be just as enjoyable as Carly Rae Jepsen. Picasso can be just as enjoyable as Kinkade. There is nothing intrinsically wrong about “pop improv.”
I’ve had the experience, and I think many improv students have, of seeing a scene/show where all the techniques that we learn were employed in such a way that made me never want to stop training. There is a John Velvet show from maybe 3 months ago that I still think about almost every day. I can probably name every Bangarang group game from the past 6 months. I don’t remember a single scene/joke/character from this “pop improv” (let’s all start calling it that please?) show last night.
What’s cool about improv is that although it’s extemporaneous, if it’s done well it lasts forever. Otherwise, if not, it’s fleeting. I like to think that if you have the tools to make great improv (which all of last night’s players did), you would want to use those tools to make something profound. But sometimes sugary snacks and Top 40 music feels better in the moment than sitting through Don Giovanni.
I stood outside UCB talking with friends about this very concept for 2 and a half hours last night. Why do I still want to talk about it? I’m the worst.

Caroline! You’re not the worst! I have this same conversation/argument (sometimes!) with my friends and improv brethren all the time.
I will say this though: I’m not sure I’d call “pop improv” commitment to non-commitment.
The style of these pop improv teams (presumably Shitty Jobs, Hot Sauce, some others) is very presentational, and I think that’s why it plays so well. The nature of improv is: “Hey, we’re a group of funny people, who are going to take a single word from you and turn it into an hour of comedy. How are we going to do that? Let’s find out!” You know? There is a magic trick element to it. I know when I first went to improv, it certainly felt like magic. I wasn’t impressed with their commitment to reality; I was impressed that they could be funny on command and seemingly read each others’ minds.
To me, that’s what these pop improv teams do. They don’t commit to the reality of the scene so much as they commit to the reality of the room, the reality of “this is a comedy show.”
So from that perspective, what do they do? They engage the audience, they climb the stage and turn the lights off, they point out when one of the players is late, they talk to the crowd, they make fun of someone in the audience if they’re being ridiculous, they comment if something doesn’t get a laugh or if they’re confused. This may not be standard improv, but it’s certainly normal in comedy: this is exactly what Conan O’Brien and others do on their live shows. 
So anyway, I agree that commitment to non-commitment sounds meta, and maybe there is a meta aspect. But I don’t think that’s the primary thing. I think the primary commitment is commitment to the idea that we’re putting on a comedy show to make a group of 100 people laugh for an hour or so. And they’re VERY committed to doing that.

carolineeand:

improvisorsimprovisor:

Rebloggable version

Well, yeah, I think it is. I love eating Twinkies and I have eaten one as recently as a few weeks ago. They’re sweet and sugary and completely bad for me. Just because it makes me feel good, it doesn’t mean I should ingest it.

I think the worst part about poor improv is that it’s uncommitted. I like to believe that anything can be done in improv if we all agree that we’re doing it and we commit to it. So making dumb jokes or making a comment isn’t deadly… it can be fun if everyone’s on board. Probably not best for every group, every show, or every scene, but it can be done.

I saw a group last year use “finger guns” and had a helluva fun time messing around with each other. They probably made every “sin” of improv, but the show was great to watch. Why? Because they were committed to their anarchic spirit, and they were truly having fun doing it. The show was still full of mutual respect for the other performer. They were Yes-Anding not only the details of the scene, but also the underlying crazy energy.

Now, if all of this commenting, cheap laughs, and finger guns came from a place of non-commitment, I’d say there’s a problem. When a performer is so unsure and untrusting in the power of Yes-And that they actively disrespect the show and their scene partners, then yes, we’re doing bad improv. 

Thanks for the question. What do you think?

Interesting perspective. Commitment to being non-committed. So meta.

Basically I saw a show last night that had a TON of laughs (I was for sure laughing) where they were so non-committed as to actually say “Uh, we have time for another scene I think” while on stage. And it’s frustrating as a student because I like to see technique pay off in laughs because it inspires me to work harder and harder.

I guess improv is just as broad of a world as music or art. Puccini can be just as enjoyable as Carly Rae Jepsen. Picasso can be just as enjoyable as Kinkade. There is nothing intrinsically wrong about “pop improv.”

I’ve had the experience, and I think many improv students have, of seeing a scene/show where all the techniques that we learn were employed in such a way that made me never want to stop training. There is a John Velvet show from maybe 3 months ago that I still think about almost every day. I can probably name every Bangarang group game from the past 6 months. I don’t remember a single scene/joke/character from this “pop improv” (let’s all start calling it that please?) show last night.

What’s cool about improv is that although it’s extemporaneous, if it’s done well it lasts forever. Otherwise, if not, it’s fleeting. I like to think that if you have the tools to make great improv (which all of last night’s players did), you would want to use those tools to make something profound. But sometimes sugary snacks and Top 40 music feels better in the moment than sitting through Don Giovanni.

I stood outside UCB talking with friends about this very concept for 2 and a half hours last night. Why do I still want to talk about it? I’m the worst.

Caroline! You’re not the worst! I have this same conversation/argument (sometimes!) with my friends and improv brethren all the time.

I will say this though: I’m not sure I’d call “pop improv” commitment to non-commitment.

The style of these pop improv teams (presumably Shitty Jobs, Hot Sauce, some others) is very presentational, and I think that’s why it plays so well. The nature of improv is: “Hey, we’re a group of funny people, who are going to take a single word from you and turn it into an hour of comedy. How are we going to do that? Let’s find out!” You know? There is a magic trick element to it. I know when I first went to improv, it certainly felt like magic. I wasn’t impressed with their commitment to reality; I was impressed that they could be funny on command and seemingly read each others’ minds.

To me, that’s what these pop improv teams do. They don’t commit to the reality of the scene so much as they commit to the reality of the room, the reality of “this is a comedy show.”

So from that perspective, what do they do? They engage the audience, they climb the stage and turn the lights off, they point out when one of the players is late, they talk to the crowd, they make fun of someone in the audience if they’re being ridiculous, they comment if something doesn’t get a laugh or if they’re confused. This may not be standard improv, but it’s certainly normal in comedy: this is exactly what Conan O’Brien and others do on their live shows. 

So anyway, I agree that commitment to non-commitment sounds meta, and maybe there is a meta aspect. But I don’t think that’s the primary thing. I think the primary commitment is commitment to the idea that we’re putting on a comedy show to make a group of 100 people laugh for an hour or so. And they’re VERY committed to doing that.

(Source: speakeasyimprovnyc)