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

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The Improv Life: I Wanted to be a Musician, But Comedy Came Easier

The Improv Life: I Wanted to be a Musician, But Comedy Came Easier

I wanted to be a badass lead guitarist who plays Marty Friedman like guitar solos, just one after the other, a flurry of fretboard genius and virtuosity that the guitar and I merge into one being.

Alas, that was not for me.

Comedy came easier to me. It was a more natural fit. I knew what I needed to do without being educated about what I needed to do. The instinct was there.

Years of watching movies on HBO, SNL reruns on Comedy Central, and tons of Simpsons had given me enough examples of what was funny and how to execute it.

My parents were funny too (in their own way) but I just didn’t know it. They would argue and dissect everything, throwing jabs or inserting jokes wherever possible.
They were also great observers of human behavior, always looking for the awkward things beneath the surface, trying to sniff out who was trustworthy or not.

So I did have a comedy education of sorts. But I still wanted to be a lead guitarist! I’ve tried on and off throughout the years, and it is fun to play, even more rewarding to learn a song or see progress.

But my growth in comedy compared to my growth in music was like racing to the Moon in a rocket ship designed by Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four versus a mule pulling a wooden cart with stone wheels, and one of the wheels is wonky because of a chipped edge, making the ride off kilter.

But like that’s life. You have to accept your weaknesses to embrace your strengths. It’s a parodox. Not that you can’t develop a weakness into a strength, but it will take way longer, longer than you imagined, and if you put that effort into developing your strength instead, your strength will explode, more than you thought yourself capable of. I know, it’s a parodox.

Anyways, I’m going to go listen to Steely Dan now because I’m in my 30s. Cheers.

#improv #music #strengths #weakness #growth #progress #rock #metal #journey #class #nature #nurture #life #paradox #steelydan

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