Who You Work Best With

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Who You Work Best With

Postby beatsweetheart » November 29th, 2012, 1:44 am

In my level six class tonight, I was thinking. I know, right?

Anyway, when it comes it to things like sports, or speech, or spelling, it's a general rule that working with or competing against people that are better than you is what makes you better. Working with and competing against people that are worse than you makes you win and have confidence, but probably doesn't strengthen your skills so much.

But I think in improv this is opposite. I feel like maybe I learn more and strengthen my skills more when I work with players that have less experience/skills than me.

Although it's fun and inspiring and I can learn a lot from watching more talented/experienced improvisers, I don't feel like I really 'flex my muscles' as much.

What do you think?
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Postby jillybee72 » November 29th, 2012, 1:46 am

What a great question! It feels like different muscles get worked out depending on which scenario. When I play with Joe Bill I learn something concrete every time, I walk away with a lesson that I learned just from being onstage with him. When I play with an inexperienced person I get to work on my current goal of learning how to put them in the best possible position to succeed, and I grow from the effort.
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » November 29th, 2012, 11:25 am

hmm...i don't know that i've ever noticed a difference. i have been delighted equally playing with both newer and more experienced players as much as i've been frustrated playing with both as well. but i definitely learn from them all.

i remember when i first moved back and didn't know everyone active in the community that well, i got to play with a handful of people that i assumed had been doing it for several years because i was so blown away playing with them. and when i found out how long they'd ACTUALLY been training and performing, my mind was blown...and i definitely felt like i had to raise my game, so to speak. not to "beat" them, per se, but so i felt like i could keep up with them onstage and be worthy of sharing the space with them (and, yes, i absolutely still feel like this about people i've known and played with for what seems like ages. ;) ).
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Postby valetoile » November 29th, 2012, 8:23 pm

What a good question! Playing with people I know and trust can be easy and comfortable, but if we know and trust each other enough sometimes we can challenge each other, take risks we wouldn't with people we know less well. When I play with really talented folks it can be challenging, especially if their style is very different than mine. Like being thrown into a fast paced game heavy show. And of course playing with people who are newer is great- they might be more challenging because they're making moves out of fear, and your job is to trust for the both of you. Or they're so new and excited they haven't decided how improv is supposed to go, so they make these really bold amazing moves you're not expecting, and then you have to not play from a place where you think you know better- you've just got to hell-yes-and them.
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Postby beatsweetheart » November 30th, 2012, 1:50 am

Yes to all of these things! I agree sooo much.

I think I came off a bit negative in that original post.

What I meant to say was something like this:

Improv is a unique in that the abilities of your companions never force you down, and can always raise you up!
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Postby Spots » November 30th, 2012, 5:45 am

YES!


Technique! Technique! Technique!




Take that horrible onstage experience where you felt like you were jumping through hoops and add it to your experience.


Where there is no trust, work hard and diligently on your technique.


You are absolutely right. Falling back on trust offers you the greatest feeling in the world but it usually doesn't flex your improv muscle nearly as much as taking in a bad experience. Or trying to hide the ashes under the carpet by pulling ninja moves to make the scene work.



You might never play with THIS guy ever again but maybe there are 50 other improvisers out there that make similar moves.


Now you have learned something and trust yourself to make the right choice in those moments.
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » November 30th, 2012, 10:53 am

valetoile wrote:hell-yes-and


i love this far too much. 8)
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Postby Jon Bolden » November 30th, 2012, 11:09 am

The one thing I've learned the most in the last four years or so of training is that variety (in every since) is what makes me better & have more fun all around. I used to have a crummy time playing with people I didn't know and that has absolutely changed.

Edited: Just to clarify, this works for me. I'm not saying it will necessarily be true for all, of course:
Last edited by Jon Bolden on November 30th, 2012, 6:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Spots » November 30th, 2012, 6:05 pm

Ellen! Bolden!


To add to your point-- I see improv veterans frequently skip out on jams or lotteries for the very reason you stated.


That level of play is out of their comfort zone. You'll see them scope the sidelines and size up people they want to play with, and potentially people they don't want to play with.

I'm guilty of this and hate when it happens-- but that guy who made me give him a blowjob in a scene once scares the crap out of me.

Very little trust there.


But the level 2 and 3 students who are just grinding away at scenes will play with that guy. And they will collect the experience in their butterfly net.


They will say, "That was hard. But I did it!"


And become just a wee bit more fearless.



So veterans! Test your comfort zone every once and a while just to stay fresh. Bolden's got the right idea.
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Postby PyroDan » December 3rd, 2012, 5:12 pm

YEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

A long time ago I had gotten spoiled in a wonderful circle of performers, and I made a lousy choice to only perform with those people of improvisors that had proved themselves "worthy"

Ugh, what crap that was, because when I finally started working with greener, less experienced performers it taught me sooo so much. And in turn I think I helped them.
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Re: Who You Work Best With

Postby karenjanedewitt » March 2nd, 2013, 9:41 pm

Yep!

I'm well into my 3rd year of doing non-stop improv and a couple weeks ago I felt like I hit a wall. Why is this not fun anymore? Why am I thinking this much? Why can't I just say yes and? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME OMG OMG?

Then... I did a two-person show with Eric Heiberg. WHOA! I felt like I did better improv than I had done in ages! I'm guessing because it was a one-off show (no pressure) with someone I had not improvised with much (different!). It didn't hurt that he's a damn good listener and very giving onstage. That one show brought to light so many things that I had let slip away, like listening hard, truly being on my toes, and just not caring about outcomes. The improvisors I normally work with are not to blame for me slacking on my improv 101 principles, but I think I let the comfort of family get the best of me.

I also recently started TAing classes for the first time. It's pretty fun to play with students who don't know all the "rules" of improv and haven't relaxed into certain habits yet. They're nuts! And it's wonderful! It's all so new and exciting and revelatory and big! And OH YEAH, WE DO THIS FOR FUN! I'm currently trying to channel that newbie joy into my improv practice.
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