Boldly choose. Boldly commit. Accept everything your scene partner says and does. Accepting doesn’t mean you have to like it, but you have to allow it to happen – and to repeat.
Commit. Push forward. And you’ll find yourself on the other end.
Stopping forward momentum to discuss, argue or otherwise conflict will kill you as all your scene’s (and the audience’s) focus is on “what do we not understand.”
Commit. Believe and see. And you’ll kill it (rather than the other way around).
The improvisers are John Hilowitz and Townsend Hart of The Johnsons.
I loved watching this scene. I was uncomfortable watching the scene, but both players’ commitment ensured that I was uncomfortable for the characters, not the improvisers.
Being able to react to your scene partner without stopping your scene partner from being/doing what it was you reacted to in the first place is Improv As Improv Does Best.
Being able to engage the audience – making them follow, if not understand, your characters – through patterns of emotional behavior is Improv As Improv Does Best.
Being able, as the audience, to connect to the improvisers because you’d feel as they felt is Improv As Improve Does Best.
Townsend makes the bold choice to sing. John – and the audience can empathize with his desire not to sing along – moves to join and coughs. Townsend continues her forward motion – singing more. John heightens his choice – more boldly singing worse. And while Townsend feels the weight of each of John’s contributions, she reacts without restricting John’s ability to continue so as to fuel more weight and more reaction. And more pattern.
Beautifully, when Townsend has finally built to the moment where her character can’t “take it” without “talking about it,” she – focused outward, on the environment and Disney-fied situation – she takes off her character’s “costume” head in mime. When John is able to follow and respond to Townsend’s endowment of actors with Disney-World-character heads, and in doing so throw his committed unintelligibility on its head with his clear enunciation of “Why?” his move is at once a testament to collaboration and filtering through your unique perspective.
Choose. Choose. Commit. Commit. Heighten. Heighten. React. React. Laugh.