by Chris Petersen
A question that always comes up from students is: “How do I form a troupe?” (answer: find the people you like and like playing with and eventually come up with a name. Congratulations: you’re a troupe. The incomparable Jess K. has written on this very subject). It seems like an easy question, but consider what’s inspiring them to do it: the best troupes make the difficult and improbable look effortless and inevitable. Surely there’s a great deal of black magic required for assembling a group capable of this?
The chemistry between people who like each other and have fun together is extremely difficult to contrive. By comparison, skill at improv is much easier to develop. After all, that’s what classes and practice are for.
Practicing/rehearsing with your troupe (and ideally a coach) is important for improving as a group, but let’s say you can’t manage a rehearsal one week. Someone can’t make the full practice time, or your coach is in a show, or there’s no space to play, or what have you. What to do? Get everyone together and go to the bar (or coffeeshop, or get dinner, or whatever. Just as long as it’s something where you can talk and hear each other. So not an improv show.). Hanging out and shooting the shit (on anything, not just improv) is invaluable for building that chemistry. If you don’t enjoy talking at the bar with someone, odds are good you’ll struggle onstage with them.
In honor of Go Comedy co-founder Gerald Knight, I give you this example of group bonding off the stage. You can’t fight that chemistry: