Friday, July 09, 2010

Improvisation and the Suggestion

At the top of almost any improv scene the players will get a suggestion from the audience. Sometimes a location, sometimes a relationship, and sometimes just a single word. TJ Jagodowski and David Pasquesi, well known in the subculture that is improvisation, don't take a suggestion before they do an hour long scene, or what they call "perfect" plays. Instead they tell the audience “Trust us, this is all made up”. Here's why:
Dave: Because we think more of the audience. They know that just because they give you a suggestion doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily improvised. We set out to do something different. I think they trust us enough to know that we’re doing this right now. And if they don’t believe us, getting a suggestion isn’t going to help that.

TJ: It’s kind of liberating, too. Like, if you ask for a location and get "kitchen," then you start making breakfast. Without that suggestion, you go right to your partner, because it’s the only thing you've got. Dave’s my suggestion every night.
I don't necessarily agree. Perhaps that is true for his Chicago audience, one mostly made up of thousands of other improvisers. For most improv across the country audiences want to be involved in the process, both through their laughs and their suggestion. That said, every time I see them I am inspired to make my own performances more theatrical. You can see for yourself in their improv scene turned movie Trust Us. Though let me caution you not to judge their improvisation based on the movie alone. Filmed improvisation is never the same as seeing it live. Their is no risk and, like I said earlier, no participation. To see live comedy, you'll have to come to the theater.

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