Montreal Improv: l-r Bryan Walsh, Kirsten Rasmussen, François Vincent, Marc Rowland (photo credit: Jeremy Bobrow)
Why do improv?
(part II of a series)
Those times of divine inspiration where an improviser makes it work despite all odds are what we live for.
by Marc Rowland of Montreal Improv
(A version of this article was previously published at The Charlebois Post - Montreal)
In nature there are pecking orders amongst socially organized species. Bigger chickens peck at smaller chickens and assert their dominance to take the choicest grains and roosting spots. In the chicken coop that is the comedy world, improv may well be the smallest chicken there is. In Canada, stand-up and sketch keep improv in its place, but all over the country high school students are practicing improv, performing shows and competing to prove who’s the best at spontaneous make-em-ups. In fact, Canadians have an international reputation for being particularly good at improvisation. So, if improv is the runt of the comedy litter, then why are so many Canadians doing it?
Improvising can be an incredible rush for both the performer and the audience.
Learning to create spontaneous scenes, stories and exciting moments on stage requires a wide array of talents that would be beneficial not only for performers but for all people. Improv has a two-part cycle of accepting ideas and expanding on them. An improviser needs to be able to watch and listen to their partner, their self and their surroundings and a good performer accepts all those minutiae and creates new ideas to enhance them. There are countless moments of spontaneous creativity that require confidence in one’s showmanship. Improv is good for training people to be confident in their ideas and in those of the people around them.
Improvising can be an incredible rush for both the performer and the audience. The players enter the stage to entertain the crowd with no preparation, no preconceived notions, no safety net. Like when a tightrope walker makes those first tentative steps onto the line, we are afraid for them. Those times of divine inspiration where an improviser makes it work despite all odds are what we live for. A good performer of any sort exudes pleasure on stage, flirts with danger and engages the imagination of the audience. Improv is an exciting art form when the players are showing their vulnerability, humanity and pleasure on stage.
Improv is fine with being the lowest in the pecking order. As observant innovators and daring adrenaline jockeys, making the best of a tricky situation is what improvisers do best.
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