Improvisational Theater

Monday, November 11, 2013

I believe Improv can Fly....

   I have regularly gotten wind of the rumor that I "do not like Comedy" or that I "do not like stand-up". These claims are wholly unfounded. Very much in the same way the question "why don't you like sex" was unfounded when I asked not to be unwillingly sexualized in improv scenes.
I love sex.  I love Comedy. I really, really enjoy great stand-up!!!  I believe there is a time and a place for those things, plus, I believe there is an appropriate area of overlap. I love it when sex is funny. I love it when stand-Up is poignant. I love it when Comedy is  dark. What I don't like is the regularity with which Improvisational theater, the greatest passion of my life, is undermined, unappreciated, disrespected, or otherwise limited, cornered or caged. Comedy is not the cage. Comedy is a million things at different times and all at once. For me, comedy has no bounds, nor does drama. But that is not the dominant ideology.
    Comedy for many people is synonymous with joke making and joke making with Stand-Up. What points my ears is where Improv and Stand-up begin to overlap in such a way that the magic of collaboration falls away and the majority of Improv I see becomes a stand-up cock fight, a stage full of voices clamoring to be heard, jockeying for the lime-light and driving toward the punch. That isn't the improv I love.
     The improv I love isn't driven, it's discovered. It is as magic to the performers as it is the audience.  Those discoveries are best made when the performers are gripped by the moment, present and poised for acceptance.  That magic best happens when imagination, intellect and impulse are given flight and ego is on stand-by. 
      It has never been my opinion that Comedy is bad, or that Stand-Up is undeserving of it's success. It's never been my opinion that Improv should stand wholly apart from those things. But it has been a great focus of mine to honor and encourage the great diversity and potential of improv.  I do not assert, however, that all people, all improvisers should agree, that my way is the right way.  I do not even assert that the improv I love is MY way. It is a way, a way I like a lot and a direction I will continue pushing because I've never been a fan of boundaries.


Max Czerwenka said...

I love the point you are making. I fully agree. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Simone Schwegler said...