I love “the moment.” I love the way an authentic reaction to a moment -that in no way could have been preconceived – can connect with an audience for a big laugh.
And I LOVE when concentrated pattern play incorporates “the moment” to be something uniquely Improv As Improv Does Best, connecting the ensemble and the audience in a previously-unknowable, perfectly-found moment.
“An ensemble of players gets on stage without previously rehearsed lines or blocking and acts out, making up the show as they go along. The audience understands that this show is constructed from nothing before their eyes. In these aspects, improvisational performance differentiates itself from any other performance medium.”
Here’s a scene from a Pack show I did withNick Leveski, a seasoned Chicago improviser.
This scene evoked a huge laugh from the audience. Like many stage-to-video improv moments, the laugh gets lost in translation.
But I believe I know what the audience liked. We didn’t explain the scene; we lived the scene. When we as improvisers made choices, the audience could believe that those choices were the characters’ reality all along.
Nick and I had previously talked about avoiding audition scenes and scenes focused on “bad acting.” The audience would rather see you try your best and fail than purposely be bad. We knew I would never actually perform a monologue. The scene is about two improvisers building a world moment-by-moment that the characters have been living since day one.
Acting. Webster’s defines it as: the art or practice of representing a character on a stage or before cameras. Fine. You’re acting when you’re pretending to be someone else. Then what’s “good acting”? Representing that character better. What’s “bad acting”? Representing that character worse. How does that relate to improv where the character only exists in what we do and what the audience sees? What about the 4th wall – so prominent in improvisation – that calls attention to the actor and the audience? I like this definition for acting: Being convincingly in-the-moment.