A while back I received an email with a video promoting an improvisation workshop.
This video made the following statement
veteran improvisers who don’t bring the funny are lazy.
Furthermore the video implied that long form was artsy fartsy and, as such, a lesser form of improvisation. It claimed long form required less skill and was performed by those who couldn’t deliver the funny.
As Spock would say ‘Fascinating.’
I must admit my first thought was why send this to me? Anyone who knows me would know how strongly I disagree with the above statements. Perhaps that was the reason? Maybe someone was poking me for a heated response. My apologies for not responding immediately with a passionate rebuke, I believe I was busy performing a long form somewhere.
Accusing improvisers who choose to explore long form as lazy is hilarious.
Good, bad, lazy, skilled, exciting, boring – none of these words and all of these words describe long form and short form.
If you delight in improvisation that is short form in nature, focusing on bringing the funny and this is your passion fantastic. Enjoy! Explore, perform, challenge and present whatever improvisation work you wish to do.
We don’t all have to like the same work or want to do the same style.
We don’t have to compete for what is the best.
Do what you want to do.
Do what you like.
Do what inspires you.
Remember, improvisation has many forms and was around a lot longer than the current comedy approach. By defining it as one form, limits it. Improvisation isn’t exclusively the domain of comedy nor is its success or failure defined by laughter. In all my years working with Keith Johnstone I never once heard him say “Be funnier.”
Long form and short form is the same thing because they are both improvisation shows. The differences in length, content, aim, or technical applications are all explorations. The underlying work is the same. A hockey player isn’t a better or worse athlete than a tennis player. They are both athletes. They just have different ways of using their bodies and different muscles they need to develop for their work.
I believe it is good to have a point of view about what you like and dislike in improvisation. To know what motivates, inspires and excites you. The above statements do not articulate a point of view. By calling people lazy and their work a lesser form is simply insulting. It is a cheap shot to antagonise to sell your workshop. Which is why I am posting this now almost a year later. I don’t want to help sell your workshop. Why insult another’s work to promote your own? Comparison of skill, technique or approach is fine, it is information. If you articulated why the long form work doesn’t inspire you or why the work you do, does then great. I’d be more interested in that workshop. Let’s have that discussion. That discussion is about the work, ideas and application. We should talk about and explore that.
Perhaps the sender had seen me in an artsy fartsy long form show where it didn’t look like I was trying hard enough to get more laughs?
Maybe this is an impro intervention to motivate me out of my lazy Garfield like ways.
Thanks for the offer, but I am quite happy doing what I love and I wish you much joy in pursuing what you love.