15 Things We Learned This Year

When I started interviewing improvisers in July, I had no idea the wealth of wisdom each individual would have to share. Here, I have collected my 15 favorite pieces of advice that will hopefully guide my (and your) improvisation in 2015.

 

ON HAVING YOUR BEST SHOW

Jaysen Cryer: The day I am part of the best improv show ever… is the day I quit. There’s always something you realize later that could have enhanced the show. Improv is not a good art for perfectionists.

 

ON LISTENING

Bobby Jaycox: One of the simplest pieces of advice I ever received…was from John Langen.

“Do you want to know how to be a better listener…?” Then he paused for a bit and said, “whatever you just did to get ready to hear my advice, that’s how you listen.”

It blew my mind how simple it really is.

 

ON STAGE

Bryan Fornachon: Playing at a 10 doesn’t mean cranking the volume. It’s your level of commitment to the character and the world you’ve helped create. You own it, it doesn’t own you.

Steve Raines: Silence is as valid as a roaring audience…It usually just means they are listening really fucking hard, which is really what you want out of an audience anyway.

Katie Nunn: When you play with people you love, the good shows are always worth the bad shows.

 

FOR NEWBIES

Lisa Rimmert: Forget everything you’re learning. It will stick with you, on its own, without you having to try too hard. When you’re starting out, focus your thoughts on having fun, the joy of saying literally whatever you want and just jumping into projects and scenes and shows that you feel you have no business being a part of.

Andy Sloey: YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH. Just you. The fact that you are a human being with thoughts, interests, feelings and emotions makes you SUPREMELY INTERESTING. You don’t have to do so much, you don’t have to push – just be yourself, because you are enough.

Katie Cook: If you are nervous about a show, have two drinks and get in the first scene. It’s my magic formula. You’re welcome.

 

FOR REAL LIFE

Steven Harowitz: How ridiculous is it to shoot an idea down?

Analicia Kocher: Don’t be stale. Try new things. Get out of your comfort zone. Go hard every time. Be bold. If you think of an idea, don’t hesitate. GO WITH IT…Don’t let yourself settle. Always stay searching and learning.

Lauren Vemuri: Just show up

John Langen: You gotta be kind and humble. Neither of these things come easily to me. I have to mediate on them daily. But I will tell you, on days when I’m winning at being kind and humble, those are the best days I have.

Jimmy Carrane: Create your own thing. Creation is the best medicine.

 

AND REMEMBER…

Jake Sellers: What you have to remind yourself every week is that there could be someone in the audience that has never seen longform improv before.  You have to do that show for them! You have to care about them! When weeks go on and you get burnt out, you have to get re-energized for THEM!

Melissa Darch: Improv is impressive. A lot of times we, as improvisers, talk ourselves down (“Watch us do ‘make-em-ups’”, “I just go out there and say stuff”, etc), but when we get on stage and play an emotional scene, an honest scene, a memorable scene, it leaves the audience wowed.

 

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