It’s really nice to see new improvisers perform for the first time. I have a lot of respect for first timers taking the stage and giving it their all, but I do find that a few new improvisers are in way too much of a hurry to ‘get good’.
Nobody gets good at improv, you just improve a little more each time. There’s no end goal; there are shows, some are amazing, some are bad, some are just meh, but no one will ever get to ‘Best show ever done’. This enthusiasm to improve is good but you’ve got to take your time. You run the risk of burning out and getting in your head. Sometimes it ends up with new students creating an incredibly rushed first show.
This leads to many performers reinventing the wheel. Believing that an original idea for an improv show is the most important part about a paid show. It’s not. You lose sight of what’s important; the improv itself.
There are loads of improv formats to practice, and some are not restricting to the format.
For example, Harold might seem pretty daunting the first time you see that overly complicated tree-like structure, but in reality it’s just a stabiliser wheel, a way to help you focus on your original scene which could be ANYTHING based on a word.
New performers are too in-fixed in creating a “good” show that tries to do too much. You want good characters, a good story, good comedic moments, good moments of drama, you’re asking too much of yourself and the team.
Something that always comes to my mind when I hear a new show idea is “Would it be better if you just wrote it?”. If the answer is yes, that’s great, go write it, but it’s not improv. If you want an improv show, think about how you can limit the possibilities for planning ahead.
Longform has the advantage of teaching you one thing; improv comedy. That’s our goal. We want to make the audience laugh. With that in mind, we put less pressure on ourselves to create a perfect show that tries to add too much of everything. One goal, one outcome.
So it doesn’t matter what the format is, it’s there to help us and the audience understand what’s happening, the real talent and the real focus comes from the improv scenes, that’s where the magic happens, and that’s what the focus should be on.
If you’re putting on a new show, that’s great, more power to you. Just be careful not to overwhelm yourself with so much stuff. The simpler the better. Quality over quantity.