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Lots of people ask me why I do improv. They’re probably just making conversation, but given this one-time hobby now takes up so much of my life, I take the question seriously. Up until recently I really did wonder if it was impacting how I behave in ‘real life’. I could see I was getting better at improv, but were there any useful side effects?
I started being able to see what was going to happen next in sitcoms, but that’s not exactly a life skill. I learnt to ask people not what they ‘do’ but instead what they did outside of work that got them excited, and got rewarded with much more interesting conversations than your usual cocktail standards (watching a woman my age get excited about pottery was a sudden reality check of how bizarre I must seem when I talk about improv). Slowly I noticed my listening get a little better, as well as my memory, and observational skills. I was getting funnier too. I could make my friends laugh more and, because of the lack of inhibition developed from performing, I could make strangers laugh too. They didn’t expect me to go to places I felt perfectly comfortable to go to. To be honest, they probably didn’t expect me to talk to them at all.
But more recently, I’ve noticed some changes on a much more significant scale. Improv is helping me become my true authentic self.Continue Reading
As an Australian improviser who’s just returned from the US, let me tell you, the improv scenes in the cities I went to (LA, Chicago & NYC) are terrifying. It really makes you realise how new and sheltered our community is when whole Harold teams at iO Chicago are regularly cut after only three months and hundreds of UCB improvisers are spending years auditioning repeatedly after they’ve finished classes in the hopes of finally making it onto a Harold team (if you haven’t seen this documentary about UCB auditions, check it out. It’s pretty crazy seeing a current SNL cast member having to work so hard for opportunities ). As the Improv Conspiracy grows, it will likely become more and more like these more mature communities where official opportunities are harder to obtain and performers have to make more of their own.Continue Reading
In early improv classes we’re told that we’re all “artists, geniuses and poets” and that “improv is an art form”. It’s only been quite recently that I think I’ve actually started to understand this a bit more.
More and more, whenever I’m teaching, or in a scene, I’m looking for the truth. For me, it’s the truth of the character. It’s the truth of the scene. It’s the truth of the moment. It’s the “humanity” of the character, the sticky insides, the thing that makes them real, vulnerable. And I don’t mean vulnerable as in “weak”. Showing your underbelly isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength, of trust.
We’re told that as improvisers, as artists, we get to say the things that regular people can’t say in real life. We get to be honest. We get to tell the truth. And when we do, it’s the truth that resonates with an audience. It’s the truth, that makes an audience go “ah man, I’ve been in that position, I wish I could’ve said that”. It’s that moment in Scream when Sidney punches Gale Weathers. We want her to. Then she does. Then we cheer. Would we have done that in real life? Probably not. That’s why we love it so much. Sidney does the thing we wish we could do in real life. Resonating with an audience like that, immersing them so deeply they believe you, is the best.Continue Reading
For those of you know me, hello and I probably love you. To those who do not, let me introduce myself. I am a somewhat tall, loud, enthusiastic, goofy, optimistic female. To both parties (strangers and pals alike), here are some things you probably don’t know about me: I am quite an anxious person, and I struggle from ongoing chronic health problems such as arthritis, currently in the business of trying to diagnose whether I have an autoimmune disease or not, the world’s dodgiest knees/back, and as previously mentioned, some not fun anxiety times.
Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to be a part of my first ever Improv Conspiracy Harold Team, Crown Boy. Alongside my fellow Crownies, I believe I have thrived in the TIC community, having learned so much about improv and about myself. But the main thing I have learned is about the importance of support. Yes, you’ve read articles about support and how “it is key in group work” and how “teamwork makes the dream work” and so on. This is all very true! But there seems to be an element I believe in much stronger, much deeper than just “team work”; friendship.Continue Reading
TRUST, and what we can learn from the 1990s Chicago Bulls
From a lover of improv and a Chicago Bulls fan serving his confirmation bias
As I was listening to the Jon Favreau episode of Improv Nerd today, he brought up something that engaged me for obvious reasons. Today of all days, on the day my beloved Chicago Bulls were eliminated from the playoffs, he brought up Michael Jordan.
During the late '80s in Chicago the best basketball player of all time entered the league and suddenly the whole western world started paying attention to the sport. Jordan was electric, entertaining and just so damn talented. As Favreau notes - in the '80s, Jordan’s numbers were huge. He nearly averaged a triple double in his first five years around 30 points, 8 assists, and 8 rebounds. For basketball nerds, this is pretty great. But the Bulls still weren't winning. It wasn't until the early '90s when they did some recruitment and brought on a coach who changed the culture and put the focus on the team rather than the individual.
With this shift, Jordan's personal numbers went down, but the team’s went up. As you may or may not know, they went on to dominate the '90s winning SIX championships.
There are many individuals from that era whose names we may know: Charles "Round Mound of Rebound" Barkley, Karl "The Mailman" Malone, Gary "The Glove" Payton, Reggie Miller, Patrick Ewing, etc. These are still considered some of the greatest players of all time but none of them won championships because they were up against a team they couldn't beat.Continue Reading
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