Forbes magazine (well, the website) has an excellent article entitled, “How To Be More Interesting” by Jessica Hagy. It’s very good and I found that the ideas presented are applicable to our work on-stage as well in real life.
The improvisers I know who embody the philosophies of long-form improvisation in all aspects of their life tend to be kind, generous, compassionate and fun/ny people. Please read the original article here. To apply it to our work in improvisation, I’m keeping the subject titles, the text in italics is mine and is improv-specific. Let me know what you think!
HOW TO BE MORE INTERESTING (On-Stage!)
1. Go Exploring. Let’s go do something. Even if it’s simply getting into a car and driving somewhere, it’s more interesting to watch than two people just standing there. It’s also more fun to do something and hate it, than to not do anything.
2. Share What You Discover. As the scene and your character progresses, share with us their thoughts and feelings immediately. Tell people how you feel at that very moment.
3. Do Something. Anything. Again, there’s that ‘Talking Head Syndrome.’ Live in the space, use it to your advantage. It’s one of the first things we learn in class and the first thing we drop when on stage.
4. Embrace Your Innate Weirdness. Your ensemble is a unique gestalt of individuals from around the country, maybe even the world. Why then, do all these improv shows look the same? What makes your ensemble, your show unique? Find it and demonstrate it.
5. Have a Cause. Well, here I’m just going to quote the original piece because it’s so good: If you don’t give a damn about anything, no one will give a damn about you.
6. Minimize the Swagger. This show isn’t about you. Support what exists and help your teammates to create. Commit to doing good works and you will be recognized. This applies to entire teams as well.
7. Give It a Shot. Try doing something out of your personal and collective comfort zone. ‘Yes, And…’ applies to creative impulses both on- and off- stage. Try a form that scares you. Experiment with leading, tinker with following. Whatever you ‘always’ do, break out of it.
8. Hop Off The Bandwagon. A lot of teams today look the same. The same type of Openings, the same type of scenes… be different. Watch the shows that go on RIGHT before yours and change tactics, let the suggestion COMPLETELY affect what you do. Chicago is chockfull of improv. Be unique.
9. Grow a Pair. Fortune favors the brave. Everything above this takes courage. Or as Floyd from The Electric Mayhem says, “Hey, man, ain’t nothing to it but to do it!”
10. Ignore the Scolds. There may be people who resist change, but change and evolution are the primary catalysts for both comedy and improvisation. Don’t let one or two people hold you back. Give them a copy of this or just go and do. When you succeed and have taken all the risk, they’ll follow.