Improve/Improv

For the last year I have been part of an improvised comedy group . We meet weekly ( haven’t always been able to attend, but that will change this year with new work life balance aims ) to workshop games and techniques and I have now performed in about 5 gigs with them .

Learning how to improvise has been enormously helpful to my teaching and also to my wellbeing. I will aim to explain a few reasons why .

1. Saying yes 

Improv forces you to say yes .You have to agree with your partner to make whatever scenario you find yourself in work . Eg if your partner says , “Hello doctor ……”  If you say ” but I’m not a doctor” you have just killed that scene dead . I’m a bit of a control freak ,I sometimes found it difficult to relinquish planning ideas that I thought were best in the past I  might say , ” No but” or “yes but…” that it almost as bad as saying “no” . Its just killing someone else’s idea dead. Since learning improv I have found myself saying yes more often and just going with the flow . It’s risky , exciting, creative and fun .

2. Not always getting the laugh 

I don’t think I am brilliant at improv , but I am lucky enough to work with people that I think are . Over time I am getting quicker and better. It’s not about always getting the laugh , not everything I say will be funny . It’s ok to play the straight guy .In fact that can be the funniest thing ( I am perfecting my Paul Merton straight face) . Getting a laugh feels great , but actually helping someone get a bigger one feels good too . It might be a duff  idea for advert break , or a terrible scenes we’d like to see . But it might just spark another person to take a leap  into a better joke .

In terms of my teaching , this is about  support . Recognising  the skills of others and letting them flourish .Put the seed of an idea , but be brave enough to let someone else tend the seedling.  In terms of teaching it’s about encouraging children to take that leap . To put that pen to paper and have a go . So what if the first one isn’t that good , the next one will be even better , a little tweaking here and there and you could have an amazing piece of writing . You can spark own creative journey. The more you do it , the better you get .

3. Fun 

I have taught some improv skills to kids and you know what ? They love it ! They are a lot more fearless that adults  and  there are also  a whole host of other skills that it develops . The best thing is that the whole classroom  usually ends up in fits of laughter through a simple game such as 2 headed expert ( which can be tailored to any topic – good for sentence building skills)

This is a subject I will return to as I  continue my adventures in improv.

Even if you don’t feel brave enough to have a go yourself , why not get out there and watch someone else do it or you tube whose line is it anyway and Drew Carey’s Improvaganza  .

There is a whole host of games on the internet such as this encyclopaedia 

Further reading

Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre
Keith Johnstone
ISBN 0878301178 (ISBN13: 9780878301171)
Improvise.: Scene from the Inside Out
Mick Napier
ISBN 032500630X (ISBN13: 9780325006307)
Improv Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Improvising in Theatre, Comedy, and Beyond
Tom Salinsky
ISBN 0826428584 (ISBN13: 9780826428585)

I am looking forward to starting my drama /improv club again and will hopefully be updating this blog  with ideas, thoughts etc

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