This is mostly for my own educational benefit. Feel free to ignore, especially if you’re not into improv esoterics.
Yesterday evening was my fourth improv class, and my third attempt at performance on the stage of the PIT during their Wednesday night Improdome free-for-all. To recap: My first performance was a miserable failure. My second was an encouraging success. Last night, my third performance, has turned out to be an instructive failure.
It’s interesting to discover that the primary problem that ended my improv “career” before it could really start is the same primary problem I’m experiencing now: Not trusting my partners leads me to jump headlong into huge initiations and I kind of “take over” the scene, which never actually goes well.
Sometimes I think the solution to that problem is to hang back a bit, and wait for my partner’s initiation. That’s somewhat useful, but not entirely so, especially when you do have a strong initiation in mind, and your partner does not. And if your partner does not have a strong initiation, the panic sets in, and there goes the trust, and then… things don’t go well.
After analyzing my performance both in class and on stage last night, I think that it’s not strong initiations I should fear. It’s initiations that are not grounded in emotional honesty. My mind conjures the situation so fast that it doesn’t take the time to put any flesh on the bones of the character, which comes out as a broad stereotype at best. Taking just a brief moment to imbue the character with some emotional truth will probably help a lot.
There’s a reason that the bible of the craft is called “Truth in Comedy.” When I got home last night, I pulled the book from my shelf. I haven’t read it in years. It’s time to crack it open, before I set foot on the improv stage again.