Saturday, April 11

This is why

Sometimes I wonder why I do improv.  It is so ephemeral, so fleeting.  You can't practice so much that you are guaranteed good shows and certainly not great shows.  At some point, you can end up having good show after good show and yet they can seem empty.  Because the bar keeps moving.  It is performance, so you do care about what others think.  But we all know that a decent show still means people come up and say, "Good show."  Those really good or great shows are sometimes few and far between and sometimes it is hard to judge what is what... and sometimes it is hard to detect the exclamation point in "Good show!"

We desire people we respect to give us positive feedback.  Because we are human.  There are so few things in the improv world that are tangible positive reinforcement... and they come in the form of people we respect saying, "We like you and specifically you.  And we want you ABOVE others."  That is rare.  We wish it could come to all of our friends that we love and think are talented and skilled... but of course it can't.  The very nature of that sort of reinforcement is that it puts one above another.  Not that they are better people, or even more skilled.  But that is the nature of the beast.

We all (or almost all) say that is not why we do improv.  And I believe that.  But then why do it?

Because of shows like last night.

Thank You, Robot had a really good show last night.  The sort of show that reminds me of the magic of improv.  Where it doesn't become work.  Where you are all on stage as a unit, giving and taking and feeding off each other.  Where the whole is so much greater than the sum of the parts.

Here are reasons I liked last night's show:
TYR is a bit proud of our openings.  Not many folks do organic openings.  Hell, many indie teams don't do openings at all.  Our openings are fun and entertaining and not alienating (we hope).  However, sometimes they become disconnected from the actual show.  We'll have a fun opening that we don't draw from.  But last night, that was not the case.  We played with the suggestion and (for the most part) kept it moving.  There was variation and characters.  We started to touch on themes.  And when we got to the actual set, we drew from it well.  "Used the whole buffalo."  Okay, maybe a few parts can't left aside but not much.  

• While we jumped around on game a bit, things weren't thrown away.  There was layering of game.  Sometimes he'd hit a game and move on from it, but it wasn't a desperate grasping for something fun.  It was a progression.  In the past, TYR would "follow what is fun" so hard that we'd jump quickly on the crazy train and just end up in madness.  Last night we all listened and added and shared.

• Our support was strong and helpful and never took over the scene from what was already established.

• I am particularly proud of a support move/fill out the scene move I made and what it became. It was just object work, off to the side.  I said one word (which actually wasn't needed).  I am happy I was able to add to the scene and support the moves everyone else was making without speaking.  (And it was nice to get praise for my object work.  It's a small thing but people seemed to enjoy it.)

• Laughing.  My team makes me laugh a lot.  I know breaking on stage isn't great, but when you crack up a teammate and they crack you up (and you don't let it take over the set), it feels awesome.  Thank you, JR.

• We had moments of slight confusion that turned great.  Two initiations made at the same time that then join into one thing, that was then supported and justified by everyone else.
• I love moments of group mind where I think of a big move and someone one the team does exactly that move before I do.  It is so rewarding to just be on the same page.

• But there was also surprise.  People did and said stuff that just wowed me at them being unexpected.  And I surprise myself.  I often think to much, plan too much.  Last night I acted on instinct and it felt perfect (and was immediately supported by everyone).  [Thank you, Nick Ross.]

Anyway, that is why I do this.  I am glad I am reminded.  I think I had forgotten.

(I am also super-excited for a new class that starts on Monday.  If there was a class or project that my life has been building do since the day I was the movie 1984 back in 1984, it is this class.  It might end up being a mess but I don't care because it is something I so want to do.)