A teammate pointed me to one of Bill Arnett’s blog posts, and the note strongly resonates with me. The conjecture is that if one were to list a number of popular improv rules and have two teams focus on mutually exclusive subsets, the style of improv would be different for each team and a direct result of the rules chosen. In other words, one can create different styles of improv simply by placing an emphasis on different rules.
I’ve been in situations more than once in which I’ve had two improv rules conflict with one another, chosen one, and then revisited what might have happened had I made the other choice. Sometimes I didn’t make the “fun” choice, but the alternative perspective presented here is that the choice just created a different kind of scene.
If a team desires a specific style, how should it pick rules to follow? Bill Arnett’s post presents some possibilities, but given enough time, I’d like to think this happens naturally on teams. In that case, finding group mind may simply be reaching an unspoken agreement about what’s important to the team.
Given that the style of play may be different depending on the team, I want to be versatile. For that, I’m reminded of one of my favorite epigrams in literature, courtesy of Peter Carey’s Theft:
Joachim had been born before the war, in the years when children had to learn by heart the thirteen reasons for using a capital letter. To these he had added one more of his own, which was that he would, in all circumstances, do exactly what he wished.
– Macado Fernandez, One Man