Improv Confessions of a Stand Up or Why Won’t Improv in Chicago Die?

by David Spark on April 30, 2009

Foreward

What follows is an article I wrote more than 12 years ago. I estimate I wrote this back in 1997. It was originally published on my personal site which I no longer update. Over the past dozen years, I’ve seen this article become required reading for improv classes, it’s been posted up on multiple improv discussion boards, and I’ve simultaneously received a ton of fan mail and hate mail. Everything from “you’re brilliant” to “you’re an idiot.”

This article speaks very much to my opinions and feelings of the improv scene when I lived in Chicago and was working as a stand up and writing for Second City. I must say that when I wrote this piece I was still growing as a performer, so I’ve grown out of my harshness towards the scene, but regardless I think the article makes good fodder, especially for those of you who didn’t know there was a rivalry between stand up and improv performers. Enjoy, and let me know what you think. Scroll to see a video of me at the Punchline doing some bits from this article.

David

Improv Confessions of a Stand Up or Why Won’t Improv in Chicago Die?

(originally published, 1997)

I want to thank you all for coming out tonight. I’m sorry, but there will be no improv tonight. Lucky for you we have a replacement…a bowl of soup!

Give it up ladies and gentlemen for the bowl of soup. Come on, give it up. Enjoy it while it’s hot.

I want to tell you a story about a man who vowed to stay as far away from improv as possible, yet got sucked into its evil vortex.

The story begins when our hero David, that’s me, was hired to write corporate humor for Second City Communications. Everything was going along fine until David made the fatal error of writing a few sketches in which the characters all spoke in the same voice – a big no-no in sketch writing. Instead of doing the obvious and firing David on the spot, the kind-hearted people of Second City offered our hero another chance.

(Wipes brow) –Phew-

But only if he took an improv class.

(Close up of hero’s face in horror) Aaaggghhhh!

Here are the problems with Dave Spark doing improv:

1. I’m a stand up comic. For those of you not in the know, there’s always been a long-standing Montigue-Capulet rivalry between the two performing camps of improv and stand up. It’s more complicated than these bulleted explanations, but in a nutshell:

  • Improvites dislike stand up because they believe its preparation lacks challenge.
  • Stand ups hate improv because it’s not funny.

2. My acting range. Currently, my spectrum of characters ranges from Dave all the way to David.
3. I don’t play nice with others. Let me set the scene for you. Imagine I’m on stage with twelve other performers and somebody has just tapped me on the shoulder:

Hey! No, you freeze! Can’t you see I’m in the middle of something? Don’t touch me! Get your hands off of me…Here’s an idea – why don’t you just sit quietly and I’ll tap you when I’m finished.

Confused? Let me give you my slanted Hatfield explanation of the improv McCoys. Improv is a process by which about 12 people, independently thinking yet never cast in the high school play, step on stage with the hopes of working together as a team but realize that due to their violently intrusive egos, that never happens.

I was never cast in the high school play. Heck, I didn’t even try out. But that didn’t matter. Nor did my distaste of improv. If I wanted to still be considered as a writer for Second City, I had to suck in my pride and do it.

I had to start taking improv classes.

Immediately I tried to intervene with the syllabus:

OK, I think I understand the rules of this game. But I was wondering if I could add one more rule – “Nobody can touch me.”

My education began and I soon realized that there’s a very fine line between taking an improv class and paying someone to make you look like an idiot. Probably the reason I’ve avoided improv for so long. I have a rather low threshold for voluntarily looking like a moron. Kind of the same reason I don’t walk around The Loop wearing a red wig and clown makeup.

The most common questions one asks oneself upon taking their first improv class:

  1. Who am I going to sleep with? In my case, it was nobody.
  2. Is it possible to be the fat guy in an improv group yet not be funny?
  3. The class show is coming up. Can we do it without an anal sex reference?
  4. Is sexual harassment a requirement? Could I possibly get through this class without touching anybody? “Gee, I’d like to give you a hug, but I have a rare medical condition. It’s called, ‘I don’t want you in my space.’”

Improv Philosophy

Sit a thousand monkeys in front of a thousand typewriters and eventually due to the laws of word combinatorial probability they’ll write something that resembles a joke. Running concurrent to that theory, it only takes 12 improv performers one hour of stage time to formulate a joke.

Improv at The Playground

Improv every Friday and Saturday night at Café Ashe. For $5 you get two hours of improv with four improv groups. That’s a guarantee of at least two jokes (Only $2.50/joke). Sure, there aren’t that many jokes, but you get so much more talking.

The Whole World Isn’t a Stage

Many improv students feel an obligation to constantly be “on.” Be wary of hanging out. Fellow improvites who proved their humor deficiency during class will reassure you of that fact at the bar across the street.

IMPROV! Hoo Ha! What is it good for! Absolutely nothing! Say it again!

OK, not completely true. I just thought that made a catchy title to draw you to this section. I’m actually going to say something positive about improv. Pay close attention because I’m only going to say it once.

Improv is a fantastic tool for developing characters, writing or improving performers interactive skills.

(Now for the negative) But as a performance medium, improv is pure audience torture. In fact, Second City holds it in such high regard that they let their audiences in for free for all improv performances.

Three Rounds. No Holds Barred. Improv vs. Stand Up

Here’s a defining difference between stand up and improv. You’re probably familiar with improv’s one word story game. The process in which an improv troupe lines up and tells a story one-word-at-a-time. Throughout the history of time have you ever seen the game actually be funny? Of course not. As a stand up if I was to tell the same joke five times and it didn’t get a response, I’d either change it or simply stop telling it.

That’s the difference.

Excuse me, may I make another suggestion here? I’m having a great time playing all these wacky improv games, but I was wondering if I could suggest one of my own. The rules are rather self-explanatory, yet it’s a slight departure. I like to call it “Let’s Be Funny.”

But then again, I don’t know if I’d ever want to play that game. Improv laughs make me feel so dirty.

Improv Economics

Improv is the Shredded Wheat to stand up comedy’s Total. In other words, you’d have to watch 1000 improv shows before you got the nutritional laughter equivalent of a single stand up comedy performance.

That doesn’t even touch upon “long form” improv. Better known as “really unfunny” improv.

  • Dave, it just sounds like sour grapes. You’re just angry because more people go to see improv than come to see you.

No, I’m elated when nobody comes to see me. What are you an idiot for asking me such a question? Oh wait, I’m asking my own questions. Whoops.

What really annoys me is that all comedians have buckled under the pressure and are taking improv classes now. Improv has won. It’s infinitely more successful. They’ve suckered us all in. When is it going to stop? How much is enough? How many yachts do improvites need to water-ski behind?

With all the stand ups taking improv, I still find it incredibly enjoyable to watch an improv performer try stand up for the first time. Just to see the look of shock on their face when they realize the audience expects to laugh.

Stand Up – Down for the Count

  • Let’s assume Dave that everything you say is true. Improv does truly suck. Then tell me, Mr. Fancy Pants, why is it so popular? Huh? How come there are close to no comedy clubs left in Chicago, yet improv is packing it in night after night? Huh, Dave? Cat got your tongue?

Of course not, I wrote the friggin’ question. Think I would write a question that I couldn’t answer? So here’s the answer: the reason that improv is so popular, and this may come as a shock to you, but it’s absolutely 100% true

Improv is the 90’s version of the singles bar.

Let me explain. You’ve been to a performance of some kind before, right? Something akin to a movie, ballet, stand up comedy, opera, concert, Siegfried and Roy? What happens at the end of the show? People leave. But what happens at the end of an improv show? People stay. In fact, the crowd grows. Why? Because some people, I’m guilty of it myself, want all the benefits of improv’s social atmosphere without having to endure the pain of actually sitting through a performance. Those who did watch just haven’t smartened up. Nobody’s watching improv to see a professional performance, they’re just there to hang out and meet people.

I need a name of a movie genre… “How about a Comedy?”

The punchline is simply the easiest part of a joke to write. Given a funny premise, a writer or performer can easily develop multiple jokes. Proof is in the fact that there are many punchlines for a single popular setup (i.e. “My wife is so fat” or “Why did the chicken cross the road?”). There is not a single case of multiple setups for a single punchline. For improv, the hardest creative parts are set in place: improv games require suggestions (read: setups) from the audience.

I need a suggestion from the audience… “Be Funny.”

The setup is the hardest part of the joke to write. And an improv troupe constantly asks the audience to do the dirty work of setup creation while giving themselves all the credit for delivering the punchline. They don’t appreciate the straight man. It’s like an artist asking, “What should I paint?” The artist may be technically competent, but the true element of the artist is the creation of the concept and the subsequent conveying of that idea. A comic does both.

Audience Behavior

Because of improv’s high level of interaction, audiences are especially attentive. They want to see the result of their idea. Because the improv performers are using their setup and the audience is very eager to laugh at their own joke. Therefore, anything that resembles a joke generates a laugh. When someone tells you about an improv show they saw, the first thing they’ll point out are the suggestions they gave and what resulted. It’s like why someone heckles a stand up comic. They enjoy being a part of the show. Improv gives the audience a license to heckle.

Differing Audience Perceptions:

Stand up – Jokes expected. Punchlines unexpected.

Improv – Boring pander expected. Jokes unexpected. Jokes with punchlines really unexpected.

Watching stand up, the audience knows jokes are going to be told, they’re going to vote on the ones they like by laughing at them. In improv, jokes are not assumed. No one knows when they’re going to be told. The audience is on the ready for that joke to be told. When it’s told, the audience will laugh, whether it’s funny or not. They’re not voting on what jokes are told. They’re laughing because they’ve been relieved of their anticipation. The same joke told during an improv show receives a stronger response than during a comedian’s performance. To the audience, a comic’s act is premeditated and improv isn’t. They don’t realize that comics create jokes with the same level of immediacy. The only difference is the setting is no longer a theater but rather a cockroach ridden apartment that doesn’t have a cover or a two drink minimum.

Live! For One Night Only! Watch Me Write This Article! $7 cover, two drink minimum

Improv is the equivalent of watching people practice. It’s like charging admission to watch me type this article. Does the public have the time to watch the thought process? I guess so. I’d rather see the finished product. Sketch comedy is often a product of improv. For every art form there is a creative process. Sketch comedy is the only form that we subject ourselves to watching this process. Except for jazz, there’s no other art form that we pay to see people practice. Then again, we don’t pay to watch jazz musicians work on their scales.

Every waking moment of our lives is improvisation. Creativity of any sort can come at any moment. Sometimes it comes when you’re sitting at your computer. Sometimes when you’re riding the CTA. Or in my case, when I’m taking a shower. For me, there’s something about being naked and wet that produces funny. Improv is just trying to force these creative moments to the stage.

To audiences, improv is a hybrid of theater and stand up comedy. The theater relationship is obvious, but there also exists the relationship to comedy because of the desire to fabricate a humorous scene. More actors take improv classes than comedians. Another reason improv isn’t funny…no funny people. Though many instructors will argue that improv is not about going for the joke. Really? Somebody might want to tell the audience that. Because that’s what they’re expecting.

Great new improv team – “You’ll Hear a Joke if You Just Listen for an Hour.”

I saw a show recently where an entire hour passed and there wasn’t a single laugh. Sure, there was nervous laughter because they wanted their friends to succeed, but yet not a joke to be found. If I were talking in front of people for an hour and I was trying to go out of my way not to be funny, I don’t think I could do it. I guess improv takes a special talent.

Should I take Improv or Pottery?

There are many people who take improv as they would any class, like human head shrinking. And they take it as a release from the grind of their everyday life. An improv class is an excellent choice for a release. Many class members don’t necessarily think they’re going to be hired for SNL or Second City. The same reason I take Kung Fu. I don’t think I’m going to be a grand master, but I enjoy taking the class. The difference though between taking a martial arts class and taking improv is that kung fu doesn’t require me to subject anybody to watching me perform. For improv, no matter what your skill level is, you must subject crowds to your performance. Therefore, we don’t see just the best, but we must see everything. There’s no filter.

Improv and the Insurance Industry – They Both Profit When Nothing Happens

Improv survives due to its persistent lack of accountability. Improv performers never have to prove anything. That’s what makes it more self-indulgent than stand up. Ever talk to an improv performer after a non-enlightening performance? “Oh well, it’s improv.” But if an hour show gets a half dozen laughs, it’s considered a huge success.

  • But Dave, improv is not about getting laughs. It’s something much bigger that you haven’t even touched upon.

That all may very well be true. But as an observer, the discussion after a purely improv performance by both the audience and performers focuses on the laughs, or lack there of.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Lori Chapman April 30, 2009 at 1:29 pm

David, I recently wrote a sketch for my sketch comedy group, 5 by 5, in which God talks to the audience on a variety of subjects, including the fact that He hates improv. My fellow sketch comic, Christian Simonsen, wrote a rebuttal from Satan, in which Satan asserts, among other things, that the only thing that he and God agree on is that they both hate improv. Both Heaven and Hell are on your side of the argument, sir.-Lori Chapman, former improvisor

David Spark April 30, 2009 at 1:32 pm

That’s hysterical Lori. Very funny.

Are you going to be performing that anytime soon?

Mike Bass April 30, 2009 at 4:19 pm

David,

That essay is written in a very funny style and it obviously required an impressive amount of observation, perspicacity, and thought. You presented astute observations with such whimsy that you provoked thought without seeming didactic. I especially liked the madcap writing (and laughed) when you wrote that you would not pose a question in the essay that you could not answer. I’ll stop now. My prose is so far up on stilts that I can’t get enough oxygen up here.

JB May 1, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Hi David,

I did improv for ten years and then began doing stand-up. My first inclination was to notice all the differences (calculated vs. spontaneous content, solo ideas vs. group think), but now that I’ve done stand-up for awhile, I think that the performance part is the same: be in the moment and respond truthfully.

In stand-up the scene partner is oneself and the audience. How truthfully a comedian reacts moment to moment to what’s happening in the room is a big part of the performance.

That said, bad improv is just as painful as bad stand-up. And the barometer of whether the audience laughs, and how much, is not always the best measure of what is fun to watch.

Audiences laugh at both hacky stand-up and stupid improv. You can get laughs with dick jokes in both mediums.

I agree that the audience will give improv more room to not be funny, as long as it’s interesting to watch. Improv isn’t geared towards punchlines because the nature of a punchline is a punction mark, an ending, and in improv you’ve got to keep the story moving forward or it gets ugly real quick. When a good punchline is needed it’s usually to end or “button” the scene.

Improv is more about storytelling and building characters. In fact, characters in both improv and stand-up are often funny when they are just behaving truthfully within the established premise (set-up).

Yet there’s another level in both stand-up and improv in which the audience is transported into another realm. The laughter comes in big waves and the silence is very quiet as they listen carefully, anticipating what comes next.

That’s where the magic happens and it occurs when it’s done well by people who know how. And there aren’t very many people who can do what it takes to get there.

Phyllis Diller was asked why there are so few great comedians, and how did she make it up the ladder. “I ate shit. And I still take a spoonful a day so I don’t lose the taste of it.”

I think an interesting question is why aren’t there many performers who have mastered both stand-up and improv. Robin Williams can do it, but not too many others.

JB

Alex July 9, 2009 at 5:47 pm

Robin Williams an improviser? BULLSHIT! That man is a hack and never improvised anything.

Craig Monk November 3, 2009 at 12:48 pm

Hey David,

I was involved in the improv scene in Toronto on and off for about 15 years. I’m a slow learner though, it took me that long to realize that it is just not funny. I believe it to be a great scene development tool and rehearsal tool, but as a medium in itself it is inferior to stand-up.

I don’t dislike Improv, nor am I jaded. I still enjoy performing from time to time. It is odd though that when you express this opinion, improvisors go balistic defending improv as a comedic vehicle. You never get that from stand-ups. You never read how people believe that stand-up is an inferior form of comedy. Jokes aside you just don`t.

I became tired of the scene because I started to realize that the only people watching Improv are other Improvisors. I also found training that I took not only at Second City, but other organizations to be somewhat limiting. I have decided to start going to some open mics to give stand-up a go as I feel it offers a greater challenge with a great deal more of artistic freedom.(for lack of a better phrase)

That’s my opinion anyway and I am sure I will get shot down by many improvisors out there. But if they were true to improv philosophy they should just, “yes and” me and agree with what I am saying.

Carla Milo November 7, 2009 at 8:20 am

Wow. What a great post. Reading this changed my attitude completely. I thought I was expected to like stand up and improv. I have been taking an improv class and I really hate it. Now I feel ok about saying it out loud.

I am the “weirdo” in the class. I dont like all the listening you have to do… listening to things that i would usually tune out.

Yes, I am self centered and feel the stage isnt big enough for me with all those other people.

You saved the day. Thank you.

David Spark November 7, 2009 at 4:45 pm

Carla:

Thanks. Glad you liked it. I must say thought that you do have to “listen” for effective improv in that the whole point is to play off of what the other person is doing and not be a bull in a china shop trying to do what you want to do.

As much as I was annoyed by the experience, I still do see the value of improv. It is a great training experience. It’s just forcing us to view as a performance mechanism can be sheer torture.

BTW, very recently on an episode of Family Guy they did some really funny gags about how lame improv is. I don’t remember the name of the episode, but take a look on Hulu for some recent episodes and you’ll find it.

gordonboudreau March 3, 2010 at 6:25 am

I really liked this, David. I think that there may be no worse words to hear than, “please come see my improv troupe.” There is something else that really bothers me about improv, and it has to do with the whole “yes and” thing. Why are comic performers, when in the midst of an improvisational scene, expected to be tied to “yes”? Why is saying “no” regarded as stopping a scene's development? If all we are permitted to do in a scene is affirm and build, then what shapes the scene? What gives it a foundation in reality? What makes it believable?

I say this because one of the things that makes improv so insufferable is a certain systemic tone of positivity in most of the scenes I have to watch. There is a kind of “improv voice” that just grates on my nerves; it's giddy and frenetic and happy, and I'm convinced that it's a by-product of all those 'yesses” flying around the stage. Whenever I see another wretched improv scene about cheerleaders, or people on the moon, or aerobics instructors doing silly things, I wish to god that Lewis Black would walk onstage and start knocking heads together. But that would be so NEGATIVE!

Without the freedom to say no in improv, there is nothing to tether a scene to anything resembling reality. “Yesses” grow a scene, but “no's” root it. And certain comedians who are by nature dark or pessimistic, must abandon their comedic instincts to do improv if only yes is permitted in a scene. And that is what makes the form so hard to bear. After so much syrup, will somebody please make me some strong, black coffee?

gordonboudreau March 3, 2010 at 6:25 am

I really liked this, David. I think that there may be no worse words to hear than, “please come see my improv troupe.” There is something else that really bothers me about improv, and it has to do with the whole “yes and” thing. Why are comic performers, when in the midst of an improvisational scene, expected to be tied to “yes”? Why is saying “no” regarded as stopping a scene's development? If all we are permitted to do in a scene is affirm and build, then what shapes the scene? What gives it a foundation in reality? What makes it believable?

I say this because one of the things that makes improv so insufferable is a certain systemic tone of positivity in most of the scenes I have to watch. There is a kind of “improv voice” that just grates on my nerves; it's giddy and frenetic and happy, and I'm convinced that it's a by-product of all those 'yesses” flying around the stage. Whenever I see another wretched improv scene about cheerleaders, or people on the moon, or aerobics instructors doing silly things, I wish to god that Lewis Black would walk onstage and start knocking heads together. But that would be so NEGATIVE!

Without the freedom to say no in improv, there is nothing to tether a scene to anything resembling reality. “Yesses” grow a scene, but “no's” root it. And certain comedians who are by nature dark or pessimistic, must abandon their comedic instincts to do improv if only yes is permitted in a scene. And that is what makes the form so hard to bear. After so much syrup, will somebody please make me some strong, black coffee?

improvdefender July 12, 2010 at 3:03 pm

I think you have a misunderstanding of what “yes and” truly means in an improvisational context. Improvisers are allowed to say the word “no;” they are allowed to be negative; they are allowed to be pessimistic. It is very possible to physically say no, while still “yes and”-ing the scene. What “yes and” tries to teach is an acceptance of the gifts that other performers give, so that together they can create a rich and realistic world.

The kinds of denials improvisers try to avoid are denials of what's already been established in a scene, especially for no good reason. Here's a fairly common example: A man and a woman are playing a couple arguing, where the woman wants a divorce. The man says “But, honey, what about the kids?” and the woman says “We don't have any kids.” Yes, that's funny, and it got a laugh, but it was a cheap laugh, and it made the man look like an idiot.

Like somebody else about this article has said, an improv team is only as good as its weakest link. If you are making other improvisers look bad, you're making your whole performance worse.

Gordonboudreau July 14, 2010 at 3:01 pm

But why is it that, whenever I want to introduce the value of “no” into improv, the response I get is usually something like, “well, if the no is really a yes, it's ok.” Or “there are useful no's, and if it's a useful no, then it's acceptable.” But how do you know if ANYTHING is useful until you explore it? And why does nobody ever question if a “yes” is useful?

Another thing I hear a lot is that experienced improv'ers can use no, but beginners shouldn't. But that's like teaching a child that a saw is bad just because he may not understand it yet. I would love to see two groups of actors trained in improv–one taught “yes and”, and the other taught nothing but to use their imaginations. Would the differences be at all perceptible? If so, my money would be on the latter group being the more interesting to watch.

Hernan Lerner July 29, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Its stupid to keep the “rivalry” between Improv and Stand up.
I REALLY think you do not really understand improv, and its not my dutty to try and explain it to a guy that is so “square headed”.
Sorry if its an offense, but its the true. If you are SO BIG and SO FUNNY as you intend to be, you should be trying to set links between boths arts, and not putting more wood into the fire.
Sory men, i make improv, and i thing i would do is starting to talk bad about other arts. That shows your lack of understandment, it shows that you give a shit about things that are different from what you do, what you like, or what you think think is good. Maybe, thats why you could not understand improv. Improv is about working with your partner, is about sharing ideas, sharing story´s. Is not about beeing the best of the world, it´s just abput making something from nothing, right here, right now.
Improve yourselfe, grow, dont just stay on your “safe” area, explore the places where you do not find yourself confortable, maybe, you´ll find things that you never knew where there.

improvdefender August 3, 2010 at 10:33 pm

You make a lot of good points. I especially like your “Why does nobody ever question if a 'yes' is useful?” Because that's actually very true. Yes's can almost be as bad as the “no's” that we teach to be avoided. I can't think of an example off the top of my head, but I'm sure a “yes” could even be the kind of world-denial that I mentioned in my earlier post. Even worse, sometimes yes's just don't add anything at all to the scene, and they create a boring scene that doesn't go anywhere, because there's nothing interesting to watch if to people are only saying “yeah, exactly” or “that's what I was thinking” to each other.

In the end what I think it boils down to is not so much what we teach, not so much that the doctrine of “yes, and” be followed to the T, but rather that we remember that improv is a theater of poverty. What I mean is that we have no pre-made script, so we have a scarcity of resources when we walk onto a stage as an improviser. That automatically makes everything that is said potentially very important, and if we don't explore, as you said, what we improvisers give to each other, then we're wasting the few resources we've been given. That's why it's so important to not destroy the realities that our fellow improvisers create with hasty, albeit funny, denials.

Paul Simmons October 7, 2012 at 3:02 pm

David, I just stumbled on your article “Improv Confessions of a Stand Up or Why Won’t Improv in Chicago Die?”
I enjoyed it and found it enlightening in that it helped emphasize and clarify some of my long standing statements and
insights on improv versus stand-up and comedy improv versus what I call “theatrical musing on a provided topic
geared to provide illumination, exposition and the occasional amusement based on honest revelation of the topic”.
I do not care for those that cite the rules/regulations/canon of improvisation or you didn’t learn it here or you haven’t
spent three thousand dollars on classes so you can’t possibly know what you are talking about. I’ve been doing
comedy improv for 18+ years (yes I buried the lead) and always insisted that it be listed as comedy improv. Why?
For the exact point that you make, improv is not expected to get laughs. That is not the case with me and the troupe.
If we don’t make people laugh, it is a failure in our eyes and we are disappointing the audience. We deliver and have
done so consistently for most of the 18 years. The first year was rough, but we cut the fat from the meat and have
not looked back or recruited anyone that isn’t funny since.
Your article made its point for me with the sentence:
“The story begins when our hero David, that’s me, was hired to write corporate humor for Second City Communications.”
Why in the world would they need to hire out for humor? The answer is simple, they don’t have it themselves. There are
many stories of how this person or that person came from Second City and went on to success. True, it is great for
starting, but all of those people left Second City and went on. They changed, adapted, and created based on the initial
rules. If they had to find someone to make it funny, if they then criticized that hired person for not following their rules, then
they deserve to be slapped about until they tear up.
Rambling I know, but this is being written in between breaks. Just wanted to say that watching most of the “improv” clips
that I have seen I agree whole-heartedly. Improv is NOT funny when done as theatre game cerebral wankering. Fifty
percent of us in the troupe have done/are doing stand-up, and not just open mic nights. We get funny, we deliver funny, and
we proudly accept the label BarProv the “legitimate” troupes would stick on us. If we can get a crowd of 75 plus drinking
college age and 20 somethings to shut up, listen, and laugh, then I think we have made our point.
Thanks for ranting and making valid points while doing so in your article.

Paul Simmons

Ryan October 31, 2012 at 10:33 am

just found this.  thank god you saved me from typing it.  great post.

Ryan October 31, 2012 at 10:34 am

YES

Joseph Kool September 30, 2015 at 1:29 pm

Improve is gay and so are you

Joseph Kool September 30, 2015 at 1:31 pm

How is that funny? Define improve however you wish, just don’t try and pass it off as comedy.

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