The Improv Life: Why You Have to Read Books, Watch Movies, and Listen to Music

The Improv Life: Why You Have to Read Books, Watch Movies, and Listen to Music

I’m a big believer that everything you consume informs and contributes to your art.

You don’t know how it’s going to manifest in your art.

Unless your making a conscious effort to channel specific themes and references from a work of art that inspires you – which a lot of artists do in other kinds of mediums (but not usually improv) – you’re just going to go out there and see what comes out.

Improv is spontaneous and unplanned – there’s no way you can go into a scene knowing what’s going to inspire you in the moment.

Yes, you get a suggestion, but that’s just the starting point, not the whole scene.

You’re mind/gut sends you an impulse, you hold onto it, and use it to build a character, or to explore the scene while you figure out what’s going on.

But what is that impulse? It’s probably an idea for a character, or a vague feeling pushing you in a certain direction, with every move giving you more handles for you to grip your character.

But where does that idea come from? Well,  that probably depends on you. For me, and I don’t know how this developed, I’ll think back to some random thing I read, watched, listened to, remembered – and I totally have no control over this; it just arrives on its own, prompted by the moment and its unfolding action – and I use that for inspiration.

And you can create some wild stuff when you take what your mind gives you to cobble a character together. Some characters feel like they’ve been waiting to come out fully formed, and others feel like a mosaic I’m slowly piecing together with every choice. But the point is this: my subconscious is processing everything; the more I give it, the more it will give me for my art; I don’t control how it manifests, but I embrace whatever it gives me because I know there is gold there waiting for me to uncover it.

And that’s why you have to go read books, watch movies, and listen to music – you don’t know how it’s going to inspire you, but you can bet it will.

#improv #character #books #writer #director #books #art #creative #inspiration


The Sketch Comedy Life: Don’t Let Ideas Escape You

The Sketch Comedy Life: Don’t Let Ideas Escape You

As a writer, you’re only as good enough as your ideas and your ability to bring them into the world.

That’s why you you have to write every idea down and then see which ones are worth further development.

Man, getting ideas is easy. Go read a book, watch a movie, take a walk. Live life basically and ideas will come.

But, you’re presence of mind to write down ideas as they come to you will make all the difference when it comes to have something to write about.

I’m not trying to play down the difficulty in getting ideas; I’m emphasizing the importance of cataloging your ideas for some future use.

I write a poem every day, and there are some days that I’m just bombarded with different lines and verses, each exploring a specific subject or theme that’s on my mind.

I’ll think about them over and over, writing the poem in my head for later publication.
Or, if it’s a lot of things coming at once, I’ll go journal. More often than I like to admit, I acknowledge the idea but get on with my life – the idea dies as the thought that birthed it disappears.

That happened to me a few times today. Or I’ll be asleep, wake up with a profound thought, but then go back to bed. Believe me, I regret not writing down a lot of these lines.

But here’s the positive: when I do write down an idea that just comes to me, it now has the potential to become something else, something bigger and more meaningful, or maybe just something I can revisit later when I have more insight for how to approach it.

I think one of the secret goals of National Sketch Writing Month is to get people to write down their ideas more because who knows, you might write something amazing that will crush it with an audience.

One more thing. For this to work, you can’t judge your ideas. Judging your ideas will kill your ideas because finding a flaw in them will be easy and you’ll get discouraged. When you’re panning for gold, you’re going to get rocks, but if you want the gold, you’re going to have to sort through the rocks.

#improv #sketch #writer #ideas #creativity #journal #habit #poetry #comedy