This was originally posted on my tumblr in response to a video Zach Linder posted - an excerpt from Jerry Lewis' film "Errand Boy" - I can only link it on blogspot, but watch it if you can, and then read my response. Or just read my response, it's just about improvSHOCK!
So many reactions to this - but the one thing I want to add is that we should be aspiring to this level of commitment and style today. Especially in improv. The next half-assed scene I see, I am going to scream. In improv, fear manifests itself in a lack of willingness to commit to our scenes. It’s fear that causes ironic detachment, or clinging to some kind of internal scene-world logic instead of fucking reacting to our scene partners and committing to the reality of that scene.
I think we have to give ourselves permission to be AMAZING. Let’s consciously give ourselves permission to be this tight and good and sharp - because if we don’t, we INSTEAD, often unconsciously, give ourselves permission to just fuck around. I don’t want to see that. I don’t want to DO that. I guess what I am trying to say is that we need to give ourselves the permission to fucking RULE, to be amazing and talented - and not the permission to fail.
What I am NOT saying is that we can’t let ourselves fail. It’s improv. We are making shit up. Sometimes, it is going to fail. But we can decide how we are going to fail - spectacularly or ironically. Avoiding failure is just another kind of failure.
Spectacular > Ironic
This is sounding more and more like Amy Poehler’s quote about how she treats improv as her sacred space - as her church. I believe that so much right now. I want to stop judging and just treat that stage and that rehearsal space with that level of commitment. It’s also just a really useful metaphor. Even if you don’t view the improv stage as your personal sacred space (although if you’ve been doing this for more than a couple years and you still don’t think of it that way… not quite sure why you are doing it), you would still respect it as such right? I am not a Christian, but I still respect cathedrals as spaces.
Relax, and have fun, but don’t relax your commitment to sacred success. Let’s give ourselves permission to take ourselves and our performances seriously.
I know it is weird that I have gone on this rant after watching a tightly scripted / timed, non-verbal musical bit from a film. But just because this shit is basically the opposite of improv, and benefits from nearly everything improv specifically eschews doesn’t mean we can’t do shit that is EVEN MORE AWESOME.