Lights. Camera. Improv.

Those of you who move in my circles will know I spent yesterday freaking out about my comedy improv show last night. Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know I spent yesterday freaking out about my comedy improv show last night. I think it was a fairly open forum of fear. As usual it was completely unfounded, and I managed to make it through the show.

One of my favourite things about improv is that if you fuck it up then it’s funny. This means when you walk out under the hot lights for the first game -Die Story – and you jabber nonsense and the audience laughs at you and shouts ‘DIE’ you’ve won. Once that first game was out of the way I felt a lot more at home on the stage. I love every part of it, I like the performance, I like the fact that at times I make jokes that I can hear individual people laugh at, I like sitting out of particular games and watching how my Improv pals take to it like a duck to water.

The next game I played was Chain Murder which is like a mime version of Chinese whispers crossed with Cluedo. Four people play. Three people leave the room. The remaining person is given an occupation, a room in a house and a murder weapon by the audience. One person is brought back into the room and the first person has to mine the occupation, room and murder weapon to the second player. The whole time you can’t use words but can talk in gibberish if it helps. Once player two feels he knows what has been mimed to him he has to perform for person three but using different actions to what he has seen in order to purvey what he believes he has seen. I was the second person in and worked out all three. Somewhere between my interpretation and the end of the line it went wrong but it doesn’t matter, because the audience get a laugh out of it. There’s something incredibly rewarding about miming the occupation; gaenocologist, in front of sixty people.

The next game I played was Props where one at a time we got up, took a prop from a table at the back of the stage and used it in a way that wasn’t it’s intended purpose. A giant lollipop becomes a guitar or a tennis racket. A green wig becomes a radioactive Santa beard or wild pubes. It took me a while to snap to attention. The scary thing about Props is that you are on your own, and trying to put across something you literally threw together in seconds. There’s nobody to back you up, you just have to hope that it’s as funny in your head as it is to the audience, and if it isn’t brilliant, you fucked up, and they laughed. It took a while but I came up with a few good ones. I momentarily got caught up watching the way my friends manipulated the props at hand to use them for any number of other things.

The last game I played was Key Words where the audience write down phrases and sentences and we pick them at random from a glass and then have to justify it in the scene we are performing. There were just two of us in, and the audience chose to set it in a library which was brilliant for the game. It meant that any random sentence we pulled out could be justified as being a quote from a book or a title, it flowed really nicely. I even managed to pull out my girlfriend’s suggestion. I then sat back to watch the rest of the show. I was spent.

What I love about improv is the way different things can be interpreted. It’s a wonderful example of the differences between people. Some of the suggestions we were given last night would become a performance that you could never write, it’s stream of consciousness, it flows. I like watching people perform because I try to chain together how they got to that point, it’s interesting to see where someone’s mind goes when they open up. I am very much looking forward to the next course of workshops, and the next show, regardless of how much self imposed suffering I’ll deal with beforehand. I’d like to thank everyone who was there last night. Without an audience it’s just ten people running round in circles making dick and fart jokes so the fact we have family and friends happy to give up an evening to us is wonderful. Without the other ‘players’ I would have been a floor bound jabbering wreck. Without Jonny nobody would have had a clue what we were doing or where we were going (thank god for that clipboard) and without Lee none of us would be able to get up and do it. Thank you.

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