About a month ago, Ko shared a list of items that indicate polish in improv scenes and make them look more professional. He said he created the list after talking to some of the visiting teachers to Endgames and then noticing that we and many of our peers are still guilty of forgetting them on occasion. The list includes things like confident swipes, confident tags, resetting chairs after a scene, being grateful for suggestions (I think Mick said, “If you don’t like the suggestion, then why ask for one in the first place?”), and faking out both in conversations and object work, among others.
All of these become automatic when committed to muscle memory, so Ko organized a practice on Thursday to drill these habits. It was without a doubt one of the most intense improv practices I have been to, but I left feeling confident that at least some of these habits would eventually become muscle memory with continued practice.
A caveat about the list is that the rules aren’t universal. However, when I was in Chicago, I noticed that when performers broke from the rules, they appeared to be doing so consciously. For instance, if chairs weren’t reset in a Revolver set, it was because the team did organic edits, and the position or act of moving chairs was incorporated into the the start of the next scene. Ultimately, mindfulness and consciousness about everything that is happening on stage and with one’s body will make performers look more professional and polished, and I hope that with some dedication, that consciousness becomes second-nature to me.