(for our friends)
One of the first compliments an improviser receives from someone who has never seen improv before is, “Was it really all improvised?”
I can assure you, it is. At least, no one that I work with would disrespect me and my colleagues by regurgitating last practice’s grass.
Would you ask a sculptor, whose rendering of a grieving and shrouded mother draws sympathy from your quickened heart,
“Are you sure you didn’t just put marble dust on a real person?”
“Really? All of it is marble?”
“What about the hands, do you ever just take a severed hand and paint it if you can’t think of how to carve it?”
The last question is absurd and instructive. It would quickly become apparent if a rotting hand had been affixed to a statue or sculpture. Similarly, you would see the gross border between the scripted and the impromptu if we were to mix some cud in with the Caesar salad.
If it makes you feel any better, there certainly are a few infidels that use prepared lines and maneuvers and present it as fresh during improv sets. If they have told you that it was all improvised and it wasn’t, well… They can sleep however they like, but I hope it isn’t soundly.
The improvisers I know take too much pride to risk NOT making everything up. This has as much to do with professional standards as it does with reputation; what we make doesn’t exist before or after we do it. There’s nothing to point to other than your time on stage. If your peers are aware (and they WILL remember a reused line!) that you’ve been packing your lunch at home… next!
So, rest assured that your friend, coworker, child or loved one really is making it happen while you watch. If you’re looking for something to talk about after seeing them perform, how about:
- How do you feel?!
- What do you do before shows?
- What kind of exercises do you do? What does a practice look like?