Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Improvisation Sucks!

Not true! However true sometimes.

Do you enjoy improv theater? If so I got a newsflash for you. Most of the stuff is not improvisation. It is well rehearsed. How so?

Most of the suggestions from the audience is always the same. You may know this from magic. "Can you make my wife vanish?" So the result of that suggestion is always the same. An act that has been proven to work.

"But I'm part of an improvisation group" - you might say - "and we actually improvise!"

Yeah it's part of it. But you know how to read the subtle language of theater. You know your stage partners, so you know what's coming. You know why? Because you rehearsed that shit over and over. You know what fails and what stuff brings the "pidgin" home.

You may wonder what bringing the "pidgin" home means. Well I improvised and you see that sucked.

Bringing it back to magic. Don't improvise your show. Actually have a structure and a well rehearsed opener and a good, rehearsed closer. These are the two things you audience will remember and remember you for. The rest is just filler. You may improvise there.


terran said...

I just bought the Penguin lecture of Dani DaOrtiz and he says he looks like he is improvizing but he never actually does.
Funny that this blog post came just out when I'm watching that!

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the idea that what an audience member will remember you for is the opener and the closer and that the rest is just filler. That may be true in short sets for walk-around or busking but in an hour long show there's plenty to choose what they personally liked the most. The opening is for establishing your credentials as a magician and why the audience should care about what you do, the closer is for bringing the whole experience to a satisfying resolution, the middle is when you can really have fun with the audience. If your opener earned their respect now you can actually converse with them and enjoy the show with them. The time you spend with your audience is by no means "filler".

However this middle must also be well structured with appropriate peeks and valleys with the pacing and tone of the effects. And also the appropriate amount of build up and pay off. But you are allowed to have fun with your audience.

Marco Lippolis said...

I agree with Anonymous and (for the first time, Roland) disagree with you. I cannot really think that you can cosider 'filler' all that happens after your opener and before your finale. Maybe you could be more precise?


Mike Kmiec said...

You're right about bad improv - much of the time, the players are so used to acting (and reacting) in pattern, so it may as well be rehearsed.

Good improv - with people who actually know what they're doing, and who work with a director who knows their habits and can then break them out of their patterns - can be excellent.

If anything, improv (of the Keith Johnstone variety) can help with magic, because it emphasises the connection between people. Performing 'with' and 'for' people is always better than performing 'to' and 'at' them.