In a few days, I will have been improvising for a year. At first, it was just a way to unwind after work. Then I started going to jams, taking more classes, sticking together with my graduating Harold class, and taking even more classes. I was adjusting my work and sleep schedules– the latter a big deal for someone who maintains a multi-column spreadsheet analyzing his sleep patterns– to make improv a bigger part of my life.
During a volunteer trip to Honduras a few weeks ago, I got repeated requests to show the build team some improv. We ended up trying out scenes with multiple people in the group, and they met with mixed success. After the scenes were finished, people started asking why certain ones had gone better than others, and I tried explaining concepts based on what I had been taught in my classes. I realized that it was the first time that I was forcing myself to articulate ideas that had mostly just been in my head until then.
Since writing helps me organize my thoughts, this will be an attempt to better understand improv by writing about it. There are many books, blogs, and podcasts that are produced by improvisers with years of experience. If their wisdom comes down from on high, I’ll write about what things look like from below.