13 April 2009

I don't like improv

There. I’ve said it. Feels good to get that off my chest after all these years. All these years of pretending to be a fan, of making excuses for why I can’t make someone’s improv show, of feigning interest in watching people exercise.

Look, I’ve done my share of improv. It’s important to any actor honing his craft to learn to be agile and quick-witted on stage. You never know when someone’s going to go off book. Hell, it might be you, losing your place and forgetting your lines. Though I haven’t trod boards for years, I’m still blasted awake by the actor’s nightmare once or twice a year: it’s my cue to go on and I have not idea what play we’re doing or what my lines are.

Improv can save you. Once, my fellow actors and I - *six* of us - all simultaneously forgot our place in a party scene. I have no idea how or why, but we knew our characters and were able to vamp our way back to solid ground. And it can do much more. It can teach you how to quickly establish character and setting to an audience. To the non-Method amongst us, that can be important.

So if improv is useful to learn, important to practice, and can save your ass on stage, why don’t I like it?

Well, doing squats is essential to a point guard but I’m not going to pay money to watch Steve Nash do a lower body workout for two hours. Improv’s the same to me: a series of exercises that improve one’s ability to perform. They’re part of the road, not the destination.

So, no. Unless I’m thinking about casting you in something, we’re very close, or I owe you, I’m not going to your improv show.