Bad Dog News and Updates

Ask an Improviser: Different Philosophies

“How do you, as veteran improvisers, approach playing with a fellow player who approaches improv from a different philosophy that you do?” -Alexander Wong

AJ Vaage (¡Fuego!):I always remember to make strong, compelling choices and to be as open as I possibly can be. By being open and listening, different styles of improv can only compliment each other. I learn something new with every player I am fortunate to improvise with.

Carmine Lucarelli (Esnob):I’ve never been faced with a philosophy in a scene, just a player. If you ‘yes, and’ what is in front of you I really don’t see how it can go too wrong. If they are all about game and heightening, ‘yes, and’ takes care of that. If they are all about platform/tilt, ‘yes, and’ takes care of that, too. But of course, if you are dogmatic about a particular style of play then you could run into trouble. Just goes to show that these things are tools, not philosophies. Tools can be chosen for the job at hand, philosophies seem to demand adherence. I don’t like adherence, I like improv.

Jess Bryson (The Guest List): Improv has many philosophical stances; and most are different way of getting to the same thing- a great funny scene. My advice, in general, is to learn them all, and there will be some that don’t fit with you as a performer, but educating yourself will only make you better. That being said, it can be really jarring to enter a scene with someone who doesn’t share your style and philosophy. Be yourself. You were asked to do the show for a reason: maybe you can’t make “a million jokes a minute”, or you have a super crazy style and you’re playing with someone slow and grounded, but people want to see you and believe in you. And hey, everyone learns the same lesson day 1: Say Yes! If your both agreeing to the scene choices, it’ll be great- then you can have a philosophical debate in the bar after.

Colin Munch (Throne of Games): I think having an ‘improv philosophy’ is dangerous. We all have styles and habits we enjoy, both as performer and observer, but any time you share a stage with someone it’s your job to accept their brain one hundred percent.  Saying “Oh, I don’t do that” limits an art form that is too young to be limited. I may bristle at an organic opening but if you start doing one on stage with me, I’ll jump right into that whoosing tribal maelstrom.

If you have a question you’d like answered by our improv veterans, leave a comment below!