Improviser !

Ecrire, jouer et mettre en scène des histoires, spontanément…


During my trip to Chicago and Calgary in the summer of 2008, I started asking a question to the improvisers I met:

What is the most important thing in impro(v)?

I’ve recorded their answers in the following short videos. These videos constitute an interesting summary of the various improv “schools” out there and their main points of focus. This is a useful resource for improvisers looking for new “ideas” to focus their work on.

Here are their answers so far, in one big list:

- To know who you are and to listen through who you are (Joe Bill)
- Spontaneity (Michael Robinson)
- To treat the ladies like angels (Ken Lawson)
- Playfulness (Billy Tierney)
- To connect (Asaf Ronen)
- The moment (Jonathan Pitts)
- Being in the moment, being willing to take risks, making the other person look good (Jay Ono)
- Timing (Pearce Visser)
- The willingness to fail and letting people laugh at that (Becky Johnson)
- Doing it while not knowing how to do it (Alistair Cook)
- Working with people you trust and who challenge you as an artist (Tim Stoltenberg)
- Being truthful, understanding what the other person wants and getting rid of fear (Keith Johnstone)
- Having the spirit of improvisation, being honnest and acknowledging when things don’t go well but releasing the safety mechanisms when they do (Shawn Kinley)
- Not knowing what’s coming next and finding ways to mess yourself up (Steve Jarand)
- Being selfish (Mick Napier)
- Finding characters that are real and have a grain of truth in them (Jennifer Estlin)
- Developing something new (Andy Miara)
- Being responsible for having fun and committing on stage (Rachael Mason)
- Listening (Andy St. Clair)
- Laughing (Lina from Team Cornwallis)
- Being real (Lisa from Team Cornwallis)
- Playing with a sense of joy (Farell from Team Cornwallis)
- Building trust with your partners (Tom from Team Cornwallis)
- Communication (Tim Whetham)
- Enjoying yourself (Josh Walker)
- Honnesty and truth as an artist (Michael Gellman)
- Creating a reasonable reality (Bill Arnett)
- Not being afraid to look stupid (Susan Messing)
- Playing with confidence (Jill Fenstermaker)
- [BONUS !]

In the end, there is no “single most important thing”, it’s all important (Keith).

Joe Bill

Michael Robinson

Ken Lawson

Billy Tierney

Asaf Ronen

Jonathan Pitts

Jay Ono

Pearce Visser

Becky Johnson

Alistair Cook

Tim Stoltenberg

Keith Johnstone

Shawn Kinley

Steve Jarand

Mick Napier

Jennifer Estlin

Andy Miara

Rachael Mason

Andy St. Clair

Team Cornwallis (Lina, Lisa, Farell and Tom)

Tim Whetham

Josh Walker

Michael Gellman

Susan Messing and Bill Arnett

Jill Fenstermaker

[BONUS!] Chipmunk

(For an added bonus, notice the wild haircut evolution in the videos above…)

On Comedy Writing…

If you’re thinking about Comedy Writing, the secret is to wear comfortable shoes (Joe) and to write together (Nancy)!

Joe Janes

Nancy Becket