Thursday, June 25, 2009

Unify Your Approach

If you study improv comedy for more than a few months, you start to realize there's a lot of different things to think about. (Indeed, you'll see several in previous posts). Here's a few examples of things you might find yourself thinking about:
  • GO BIG in this scene?
  • CROW (character, relationship, objective, where)
  • STATUS (my personal favorite) and changing STATUS
  • YES, AND
  • thinking about the comedy GAME that's happening (example, one-upping another character)
Okay, you get the idea. There's a lot to think about. Clearly, you can't hold all these different ideas in your head at one time, utilize each one consciously, and still function like an actual human being.

So, what's the solution? You can't really ignore any of these concepts because they all are important, and you can't realistically think of everything all at once, or else you'll be paralyzed on stage. My humble suggestion is to do the following:

1. Learn as much and as many techniques/tips as possible (the ones listed above are a good start).
2. Observe yourself performing and rehearsing to see which tips benefit your acting the most.
3. During performance consciously use the 1-2 tips that help, and during rehearsal spend time on the others that don't come as naturally until they're subconscious.

So, if you're an emotional player and find it helpful to focus on the emotions of a scene, don't waste your natural energy and strengths by getting too cerebral.

I really like thinking through status for a lot of reasons (that will have to be another post), and it helps direct my energy towards the other aspects of CROW in the scene. For example, if I'm acting as a low status character, that gives me direction in my own character, the relationship, my objective (often to gain status directly or subvertly), and even the "where." But, that's just me.

Take some time and figure out what thought-framework makes you most effective, and focus on that when performing.

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