by Chris Petersen
Q: How do you make an improviser cringe?
A: Ask them to watch a video of their last show.*
As uncomfortable as it can be, watching videos of your performances is one of the best ways to assess your strengths and weaknesses as an improviser. That objective camera-eye view shows you how you present yourself to an audience. Do you do object work? Can you be heard? Are things happening too fast or too slow? Are you making use of the environment? Are you doing anything at all?
Lest it all sound negative, watching your performances is equally good at providing a realistic assessment of what goes right in your improv. There have been a number of shows that I felt terrible about where watching the video after gave me a better perspective: sure, the show had problems, but it wasn’t nearly the disaster I imagined.
The lovely and talented Mr. Bob Wieck has been regularly filming improv sets, sketch shows, and class shows at Go Comedy for many years. His YouTube channel is an overflowing library. And he does it for free, so perhaps following his page is a good idea? Also, buy him a drink when you see him.
* Runner-up punchline: “Ask them to tell you a joke.”