Q&A: Is Michael Scott Included?

Let’s continue talking about what you want to know about improv. For reference, this started from a tweet where I want to hear what questions you have about improvisation. The following question didn’t come from a tweeted reply, but a remark from nearly everyone who has heard I am writing this book:

Are you going to include Michael Scott from The Office (American version) and his “improv gun”?

For those not familiar with the show, the question references Season 2, Episode 9 where Michael Scott, played by Steve Carell, takes improv classes and uses an imaginary gun to make an “engaging” scene at every opportunity.

Every. Single. Opportunity.

For those unfamiliar with the show, I’ve included the clip below.

So What’s The Verdict?

I won’t make you wait for the book to know if I included this reference. No, Michael Scott is not included in the book. There are many potential reasons for this, but two that stand out to me:

The Societal Factor

I don’t know how to delicately say this, so I will instead choose brevity.

Violence, particularly gun violence, is an increasing reality and concern in the world and across America. I don’t want to mistake an illustration of improvisation as a casual endorsement for a frightening reality when there are other, examples.

Michael Scott is Not Improvising

What Michael does in the show is NOT improv. He is not listening to the scene and adding to what his scene partners offer. He is not being present in the moment, exploring something interesting on the spot. He is coming into a scene with a predisposed notion of what the scene should be, in this case a variation on a police procedural, and forces his idea regardless of what is happening.

Michael might be in an improv class, but he is not partaking in improv.

Still, I Must Thank Michael

Despite his horrible display of improvisation, I need to thank Michael Scott. Without his poor display of the craft, many folks would be unaware of what improvisation is. It would be that thing from Whose Line Is It Anyways or Second City. The Office made the craft part of the common vocabulary.

So despite the ill-use of the word, any publicity is good publicity.

I want to hear from you

What questions about improvisation do you have? Respond to the original tweet, or comment below!


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