A few weeks ago, my guitar teacher and I took a detour from songs and finger-picking technique to play something else: anger, longing, curiosity, anticipation, happiness, and disorientation. We spent the practice working through how to play different emotions, and I’ve been messing around with it since.
I started improvising on my guitar a few years before I started improvisational comedy but somehow didn’t see the two as related initially. Then about a year ago I went to a Harold night at the iO in Chicago. I was blown away by how beautifully Dave Asher’s playing complemented sets from Meridian and Revolver and wanted to try that out myself.
When I went back to San Francisco, I pitched an idea for a musically inspired concept team and recruited a few fellow improvisers to join me, but I was overcommitted, and the momentum died. I also took a musical improv intensive (not as an accompanist) but again was overcommitted and couldn’t commit to pursuing that.
Despite an inability to commit, I did get a couple chances to be an accompanist at improv shows. Following an iO intensive in Copenhagen, I provided musical accompaniment for an Imprologen jam, which was a lot of fun. My second chance came a few months ago when a friend was putting together a music-themed improv show but was having difficulty finding an accompanist. I volunteered my guitar and did my best to provide a musical background to the singing improvisers.
Since then, I’ve wanted to do more of this, and the first step was making time to pursue my musical interests. Now that I’ve made the time, it’s been interesting trying to develop musical skills for the specific purposes of supporting an improv scene. I am at the very beginning stages of this journey, but I am a mix of positive emotions right now, some of which I can even play.