I’m just reflecting now on the stuff I’ve learned this week and how it fits in with what I’ve learned in the past.
I feel that if I follow my instinct, I’ll more or less always be satisfied with the scene I did because I held nothing back and gave it my all. There’s nothing more than I could have done because I used all of the options available to me in that moment.
I feel like acting is easier if I’m in the present moment because my actual emotions and reactions do all the work for me.
If I perceive what needs to be done in a scene because it popped into my head and I don’t do it, then that’s being dishonest–I’m censoring myself and, in doing so, not being me.
Following the fear makes sense as an improv mantra because when I feel my instinct there is also a fear that sometimes accompanies it. I may be saying or doing something I might not normally do and that can get scary for me–I might be presenting a very vulnerable, true, and pure version of myself, even if it’s in the form of a joke.
“Hold onto your shit,” makes sense as an improv mantra too. First off, if you drop what you have at the start of the scene the audience will be able to tell. My face, for example, will sell me out. Secondly, who I am at the top of the scene is an honest representation of myself, so why drop it if I am already who I should be? And, thirdly, whenever I’ve made a character switch it’s been to accommodate my fellow performer(s). I don’t think I should be thinking of what I should do as a performer–I should be reacting as the character that I am.
My comedic instinct will guide me. As the scene progresses, various things will become clear: the game, my justification, ways to heighten, details to exploit, etc. I don’t need to worry about this stuff. If it’s demanded of me that I deliver these goods, my instinct will allow me to do so.
I was doing a run of scenes where I was thinking, “What should I do?” and it was more difficult to do what needed to be done. So, when I’m super focused it’s easier to discover what’s funny even though I’m not actively thinking about what’s funny.
In another scene, I noticed I was unfocused and it literally felt like I had to re-calibrate myself to listen better. I was simply conscious of too much stuff. When I’m focused, I’m conscious of very little beyond what’s happening in my scene–I’m not thinking of the audience, time, who I’m actually performing with, messing up, etc.
By providing as honest a possible representation of where my intuition is taking me, I’m providing something unique to myself. As such, I become indispensible because no one can be me but me. I’m also keeping the audience on its toes because it can’t tell what I’m going to say since they’re not me. If it’s something I was trying to do with the intention of making them laugh then they’d be more likely to figure it out since they already know what makes them laugh; what they don’t know is what makes me laugh (although after seeing me enough times they might be able to figure me out).
It makes sense to me to do characters that are close to my skin. If I’m funny and what’s bringing me to improv is my desire to use it to be funny, then why put in all that hard work to create a funny character? I’m already a funny character! Besides, in that moment, I’m not sure I could deliver a character more real than me.
All I’m doing is listening, experiencing the instinct/intuition evoked by what I just heard, and then turning that instinct/intuition into action.
Now I feel as though what’s left is staying brave. I have to remain committed to making real what I feel so that I’m not left wondering, “What if?” but, instead, I can mull over, “What next?” It’s more fun to imagine what would have been if the scene kept going than what could have been if I could re-do the scene.
Soon enough I’ll be able to handle whatever comes my way.
I can do this off the stage.
It’s like I’m eight again. “This TV show is full of jokes. If I pay attention hard enough, I can find more of them. If I pay attention to the world, I can make jokes of my own.”