We all have ’em. The little things about this craft we love that just rub us the wrong way. Let me tell you a little about mine, if I may.
*Brie steps forward, a spotlight shines down on her as she addresses the audience, as though the rest of the people on stage disappeared and therefore, no longer matter.*
THAT’S IT! RIGHT THERE! Stop it! Cut it out!
Let me remind you, improvisers:
- You’re not the star;
- Your job is to make your partner look good; and
- This isn’t friggin’ Glee. Calm down and collaborate.
It’s not often we get a super-long time on stage to play. Unless you’re one of the more experienced teams or duos, you have limited time up there, and you’re on the clock. It’s better to spend that time connecting with your partner(s), not tooting your own horn centre stage, ignoring everything and everybody else around you!
If I wanted to watch one person talk at me, I’d turn on CNN.
This is improv, I want to see you make discoveries with your partners. I want to see you create something together. The audience wants to see you build worlds together.
Sure, there are a couple exceptions. It’s pretty much mandatory that you step out and give a ‘lil monologue when playing any “film noir” or Oscar Moment scene. And obviously the storyteller of an Armando has to take centre stage and speak to the audience to tell their monologue. Or maybe you’re doing solo improv, lawd have mercy, why would you? But maybe you are.
What I see when an improviser goes rogue and sacrifices the scene for their moment in the spotlight is someone who doesn’t trust either themselves or their partner. Which is fine. We’re all along this journey and there’s no mistakes in improv. Got it. Save it. Move on. Now stop that.
Look at your freaking partner, in their freaking eyes. In their freaking face. That’s where you’re going to find the information you need. The answers to your terrified mind-questions. You’re not going to find it in the audience staring back at you impatiently. You’re not going to find it at the back of the room in the booth. You’re certainly not going to find it in the blinding lights above.
You’re gong to discover it in your partner. Please please PLEASE don’t leave them behind.
Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. —Helen Keller