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.