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Longterm goals as an improviser?

PostPosted: March 6th, 2012, 5:53 pm
by Spots
This comes up every so often. But a generation of new improvisers means let's ask the question again!

I transcribe my scenes sometimes and work them into other material. But I realized I've been taking this way too seriously lately. And I need to treat improv like a vacation.

Do you have an endgame? Do you use improv to develop skills for other mediums? Film, standup, theater? Does improv hold another longterm meaning for you? Or are you just here for the ride?

PostPosted: March 6th, 2012, 6:56 pm
by Brad Hawkins
This is a legitimate question, and one I guess I have to answer with "here for the ride."

I am not one of those improvisers who wishes to parlay improv into acting or other pursuits. And I don't think that that wish is at all invalid. Improv is a good tool for an actor to has in his toolbelt. But that actor is not me. Acting is great, but hard work (for all the tongue-in-cheek ribbing I give actors about having other people write their lines for them). Tom Booker is fond of saying improv is for funny, lazy people and I cannot pretend to be offended, as that describes me to a T. For me, for now, improv is the art form I wish to pursue.

Nor do I wish to start teaching or to start a theater. It would be a lot of fun, sometimes, to own a theater. Roy seems happy. But I know that a thousand headaches come with it and I also know that I wouldn't be able to make enough money to abandon my day job. And as for teaching -- the same is true there, and there's the additional fact that I consider myself an abysmal teacher. It would be folly for me to try to teach improv, even when I've learned enough that I'd be comfortable presuming to do so.

So my endgame? I don't have one. I don't plan on ending. :) For now, my goals are all short-term. Get into a Hideout mainstage show. Direct a show. Get into a festival. Play shows in another city. That sort of thing. I may end up with grander ones later. But for now, growing artistically is all I want to do in the long term. I want to be twice as good as I am now in one year. Two years from now, I want to be four times as good. Eight years from now, 256 times as good. That should keep me occupied for a while.

PostPosted: March 6th, 2012, 7:35 pm
by Spots
Fantastic response. I should also say that I just LOVE the process. It's so much more refreshing than film sets - where your choices end up not being your choices at all. To be fair, the last 3 projects I've acted in allowed me to abandon the written words completely in favor of adlib.

But it still feels like the editor's words at the end of the day somehow. Less fulfilling.


Improv is an art that celebrates choice of expression in the actual moment of that choice. So include me in the list of folks who find improv to be its own endgame. :)

Thank You for Asking!

PostPosted: March 6th, 2012, 7:40 pm
by PaGeN
Timely thread. Great post Brad!

Brad has some great goals - I want to steal them.

"Get into a Hideout mainstage show. Direct a show. Get into a festival. Play shows in another city."

I have leveraged Improv to get the courage to tell stories at No Shame. I do want to write one of them and see if I can make that turn.

I want to do some Sketch. And find another venue for my storytelling.

I thought I would never be in a Maestro or be in a Troupe when I started. It is no secret that I cried after doing my first class narrative Improv on stage. So for the record - I have done everything I set out to do.

SO I am not sure what else there is to do except sticking with it for 10 years and following Brad! ;-)

So I will keep reading this thread to get more IDeas and perhaps my own identity!

PostPosted: March 6th, 2012, 8:27 pm
by Tim Traini
Similar to Brad, if I was able to do improv regularly until I died, but always had to maintain some crappy job to get by or wasn't that great, I think I could live with that. I'd like to further my comedy and write more and do better as that's part of the process, but if I don't make it to the big time in the end I've still spent a lot of time doing something I love, and that's not wasted time to me.

PostPosted: March 6th, 2012, 10:45 pm
by wiggies
(I feel like I've written about this before, but I don't know where.  Maybe it only happened In my mind.)

When I was 12 I started writing poetry.  When I was 19, punk rock happened and my poems became songs.  I started a band (Kamikaze Refrigerators) and we played at some of the clubs around town (Raul's, Duke's Royal Coach, Studio 29, Club Foot) with bands like the Big Boys and early Butthole Surfers.  It was a happening scene, and even though I was mostly on the edges of it, it felt great to have that creative outlet and to be a part of something so vital.  I never had so much fun in my life as when I was on stage with my band.

Then, you know, the band split up, and I got married, and making $5 an hour in the kitchen at Les Amis didn't really seem like a long term prospect.  So I grew up, became a teacher, and have had the good fortune to do good work in a socially responsible field for which I am well-suited.  Over the years, the writing trickled off for me.  And although there is a great deal of creativity involved in education, I have missed the opportunity for personal expression.

In doing improv, I feel like I have come back to that place of excitement, of art, of passion and community that I knew 30 years ago.  That's all I want from the endeavor.

So yeah, like Brad, my goals are really very short term.  To play the next show, to kill the next scene, to discover something fun and wonderful with my next partner.  

PostPosted: March 7th, 2012, 12:33 am
by Asaf
I'm at my endgame now. I help run a theater and teach others to improvise. I think where I go to now (and I believe it is the same for Tom) is how do we widen the platform by which we help other people achieve their goals.

PostPosted: March 7th, 2012, 1:17 am
by ratliff
I will spend the rest of my life trying to get better at this without even coming close to being the improviser I want to be, and I'm not only okay with that, I'm happy about it. At least I know what I'm doing for the next thirty years or so.

PostPosted: March 7th, 2012, 1:20 am
by arthursimone
my only goal is to make the perfect choice as the perfect character in the perfect moment of the perfect scene in front of the perfect audience and then immediately die before everything turns to rot and poison

improv!

PostPosted: March 7th, 2012, 10:08 am
by Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell
i definitely use improv holistically alongside my acting and writing, but not so much as a means to an end as one more thing i love to do. improv isn't a line on a resume for me, or something i do just to generate material. i've always loved performing and telling stories. this is just a natural outcropping of that. i've been doing improv in some form about as long as i've been doing scripted theatre, so they just go hand in hand for me. i use my improv skills in my scripted work, and the story instincts it keeps sharp in my writing. likewise i use my skills as an actor and writer in improv. it's all just part of the same glowing ball of energy i'm always trying to chase/devour/escape/radiate. and yes, the longterm goal is professional success as an actor. but part and parcel with that is doing this artform i love so fucking much and continuing to do shows that excite, challenge and terrify me.

PostPosted: March 7th, 2012, 10:13 am
by sara farr
World domination.

PostPosted: March 7th, 2012, 10:34 am
by Brad Hawkins
Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell wrote:i definitely use improv holistically alongside my acting and writing, but not so much as a means to an end as one more thing i love to do. improv isn't a line on a resume for me, or something i do just to generate material. i've always loved performing and telling stories. this is just a natural outcropping of that. i've been doing improv in some form about as long as i've been doing scripted theatre, so they just go hand in hand for me. i use my improv skills in my scripted work, and the story instincts it keeps sharp in my writing. likewise i use my skills as an actor and writer in improv. it's all just part of the same glowing ball of energy i'm always trying to chase/devour/escape/radiate. and yes, the longterm goal is professional success as an actor. but part and parcel with that is doing this artform i love so fucking much and continuing to do shows that excite, challenge and terrify me.

Jordan is so committed he sacrificed his shift key. Learn from his example, young ones.

PostPosted: March 7th, 2012, 10:57 am
by Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell
capitalization is elitist.

PostPosted: March 7th, 2012, 11:06 am
by happywaffle
Near-term, I'd like to find a Confidence Men—by that I mean to find a show, format, or troupe that has real lasting appeal. I think Steam and False Matters were close for me (indeed, both of 'em got applied to this year's IPF). But there's always the next thing.

Medium-term, I'd like to teach, though I'm not sure in what capacity—I actually don't feel much pull to direct (though I'm doing it anyway for Merlin Works starting in April). I love coaching.

Long-term, no idea. I'd like to be known as one of the long-term guys (the new-ish imps already think of me like this). But I don't want to run a theater or anything grandiose like that. I just want to help Austin improv grow and be healthy and happy, and make lots and lots of people laugh.

PostPosted: March 8th, 2012, 2:08 pm
by Spots
These are fall fantastic! I've been thinking a lot about my own goals since I posted this.