What makes an improvisor "Good" ?

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What makes an improvisor "Good" ?

Postby cargill » April 6th, 2006, 10:53 am

So........what things do you think make someone a good improvisor ? I remember learning that a really good improvisor is someone who makes other players look good on stage. Someone that can play with any group of improvisors and make them look great while taking care of themselves on stage.
Do you find it disappointing to see an improvisor pull the rug out from their fellow player to get a laugh, or hide behind other good improvisors making them work really hard to support them.

What do you think ?
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Postby vine311 » April 6th, 2006, 11:51 am

I find that the more I learn about and watch improv, the more I tend to notice when someone is blocking. I know that I have definitely been guilty of it before and I'm probably still not cured of it yet. It definitely brings a scene to a screeching halt. So, I guess that means that a good improviser to me is someone who is generous with both giving and receiving offers. When done correctly, the scene can go in any direction and everyone looks amazing on stage.
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Postby Mike » April 6th, 2006, 12:39 pm

I think a 'good' improvisor is one who supports the others on stage. I am really trying to concentrate on not blocking people, accepting whatever offers are given and working with them, and to also just have fun on stage. My apologies if I have ever put the brakes on a scene. I also am trying to work on being more supportive, be it bench support or scene support.

The really good improvisors do what is good for the scene. The mediocre ones do what's good for them.
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Postby Roy Janik » April 6th, 2006, 1:01 pm

The mediocre ones do what's good for them.

I think that Mick Napier and Bob Apthorpe would disagree with that particular statement. Bob?
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Postby kbadr » April 6th, 2006, 1:39 pm

For me, I'm very much in the frame of mind of accepting the hell out of everything. So I really appreciate being on stage with people who will roll with ANYTHING that's thrown at them, without missing a beat or getting stymied. It sounds pretty basic, but there's so much to be said for complete and totally dedicated Yes, and... Getting it ingrained in you so much that stopping to think about why your scene partner said what they just said isn't even an option. Whatever was just offered is instant truth and you just react instantly, and hopefully appropriately, and a new, complimentary offer will just naturally come out of you.

What I really aspire to do is be able to take any "bad scene start" and turn it into something amazing. I'm consistantly blown away by Knuckleball Now's ability to really take their time building a scene, and totally knock it out of the park. I saw them do four scenes *in a row* that were in or about the toilet. And each one was different than the others, and didn't just contain a bunch of stupid poop jokes.

There were pee jokes too!
Last edited by kbadr on April 6th, 2006, 1:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Evilpandabear » April 6th, 2006, 1:40 pm

Roy Janik wrote:
The mediocre ones do what's good for them.

I think that Mick Napier and Bob Apthorpe would disagree with that particular statement. Bob?


I think what he meant is that a mediocre improviser isn't fully comfortable in stage yet, and focuses on many internal things. IE - taking bigger risks, facial expressions, etc. Where as a more seasoned improviser is more comfortable on stage, and has more time to focus on things external, like making your partner look good, endowing your partner, etc.
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Postby Wesley » April 6th, 2006, 1:46 pm

The good improviser is different things at different times, but I think the main factor for me is the ability to be in everyone's shoes at once.

The best improvisers are the ones that can simultaneously and without any noticeable pause think "What do I want to do as an improviser? What does the character I'm playing want or need to do? What does the other player(s) in the scene want or need from me? What is the audience expecting to see at this moment and what will heighten their enjoyment of the show? What will the lighting and sound tech give me if I make an offer their direction? etc."

I don't necessarily want to be the "all star" that is always funny from the audience's point of view, but rather the guy that is consistently setting the all-stars up to be all-stars. I use the volleyball analogy, the person cannot spike the ball without someone else doing a clean set-up. I like to be the one setting it up, only attempting the spike when I've been set-up.

Blocking is generally bad, I'll agree, but I think that is a decision based on who you are playing with. There are many times that blocks are really offers in disguise. Experienced players or people you play with a lot can see the offer and use it, but you risk alienating and shutting down a less experienced player or player that just doesn't know your style. I think there is a whole world of creative blocking and pseudo-blocking that we ignore under the guise that "blocking is bad." I think blocking from fear or ignorance is bad, but blocking with a goal can be awesome. A classic example of needing to know the rules before being able to break them creative and effectively.
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Postby erikamay » April 6th, 2006, 1:55 pm

to me, good improvisers are smart, playful and supportive. on top of all that, they have strong points of view and ground their play with truthfulness (or truthiness :)

to roy's point, i subscribe to the Annoyance POV that you (improviser) service your scene when you have something for yourself (taking care of yourself first).

your scene partner benefits from your personal endowment, because now you two have something upon which to react and further your relationship.

early on, i used to confuse being unsupportive to my scene partner with taking care of myself. the two arent incompatible.
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Postby fbillac » April 6th, 2006, 2:25 pm

The word "challenge" come to mind when I think of a good improviser.


Those that rise to the challenge of the scene while also making offers that challenge other players to do the same ROCK MY WORLD!


Now, what "challenge" means in the context of that statement is up to the you.

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Postby Mike » April 6th, 2006, 4:24 pm

Evilpandabear wrote:
Roy Janik wrote:
The mediocre ones do what's good for them.

I think that Mick Napier and Bob Apthorpe would disagree with that particular statement. Bob?


I think what he meant is that a mediocre improviser isn't fully comfortable in stage yet, and focuses on many internal things. IE - taking bigger risks, facial expressions, etc. Where as a more seasoned improviser is more comfortable on stage, and has more time to focus on things external, like making your partner look good, endowing your partner, etc.


Thanks for helping make my statement a bit more clear. Sometimes what's in my head doesn't translate to what I manage to put on the screen.
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Postby Evilpandabear » April 6th, 2006, 4:44 pm

EskimoSpy wrote:
Evilpandabear wrote:
Roy Janik wrote:
The mediocre ones do what's good for them.

I think that Mick Napier and Bob Apthorpe would disagree with that particular statement. Bob?


I think what he meant is that a mediocre improviser isn't fully comfortable in stage yet, and focuses on many internal things. IE - taking bigger risks, facial expressions, etc. Where as a more seasoned improviser is more comfortable on stage, and has more time to focus on things external, like making your partner look good, endowing your partner, etc.


Thanks for helping make my statement a bit more clear. Sometimes what's in my head doesn't translate to what I manage to put on the screen.


I think he's calling me a jackass. Well... UP YOURS buddy!
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Postby Mike » April 6th, 2006, 4:52 pm

I'n not calling you a jackass...that was a real thanks.




Evilpandabear wrote:
EskimoSpy wrote:
Evilpandabear wrote:
Roy Janik wrote:
The mediocre ones do what's good for them.

I think that Mick Napier and Bob Apthorpe would disagree with that particular statement. Bob?


I think what he meant is that a mediocre improviser isn't fully comfortable in stage yet, and focuses on many internal things. IE - taking bigger risks, facial expressions, etc. Where as a more seasoned improviser is more comfortable on stage, and has more time to focus on things external, like making your partner look good, endowing your partner, etc.


Thanks for helping make my statement a bit more clear. Sometimes what's in my head doesn't translate to what I manage to put on the screen.


I think he's calling me a jackass. Well... UP YOURS buddy!
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Postby vine311 » April 6th, 2006, 5:01 pm

Jay, if it makes you feel any better, I think you're a jackass. A loveable little jackass.
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Postby Evilpandabear » April 6th, 2006, 5:14 pm

my bad dood. i just like quoting and re-quiting people because the effect looks cool. i know. i'm a cheap date.

EskimoSpy wrote:I'n not calling you a jackass...that was a real thanks.




Evilpandabear wrote:
EskimoSpy wrote:
Evilpandabear wrote:
Roy Janik wrote:
The mediocre ones do what's good for them.

I think that Mick Napier and Bob Apthorpe would disagree with that particular statement. Bob?


I think what he meant is that a mediocre improviser isn't fully comfortable in stage yet, and focuses on many internal things. IE - taking bigger risks, facial expressions, etc. Where as a more seasoned improviser is more comfortable on stage, and has more time to focus on things external, like making your partner look good, endowing your partner, etc.


Thanks for helping make my statement a bit more clear. Sometimes what's in my head doesn't translate to what I manage to put on the screen.


I think he's calling me a jackass. Well... UP YOURS buddy!
"Anyone can teach improv. It's bullshit." -Andy Crouch on June 4th 11:33pm CST
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Postby arclight » April 6th, 2006, 5:37 pm

Roy Janik wrote:
The mediocre ones do what's good for them.

I think that Mick Napier and Bob Apthorpe would disagree with that particular statement. Bob?


Maybe we're parsing words too finely. What's good for the scene should be good for the individual. Techniques like making strong choices, playing from a place of truth or honesty, having an emotional investment in the scene don't conflict with taking care of yourself, your partner, or the scene. That said, if I don't take care of finding my own outlook, emotional stance, or character I find that I'm an utterly tepid waste of space onstage. While others can hint with endowments & offers, nobody else can really give me an emotion or character and without those I'm screwed, along with the scene and everyone in it.
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