Do I use you my family and friends in improv? Yes?
This question was first posed by my mom when I had Sunday practice over two years ago. I’d speak on the phone with my grandparents who would share a funny story, I’d then relay that essence in character and scene work during class.
I do the same with the rest of the family. Take for instance my adorable niece and nephew as inspiration for Id-based characters (I want a cookie!).
And what’s better? The 18+ months I was involved in the online dating realm there was no such thing as bad dates, just carefully curated characters. There was everything from the first date who made every faux-pax short of pulling out the photo-chopped images of our “future children” to the “constant phone checker” if her sister checked in.*
When I go out to the neighborhood bar, I people watch the interactions across the venue, and those get looped into characters, scenes, and situations. The drunk couple happily, or angrily, eating their food. The local disgruntled by the loud tourists encroaching on their space. The bartenders friendly to some and shaking their heads at others. It’s all character-fodder.
Art imitates life. And life imitates art. I have lived a narrow set of experiences – my own. By pulling from what I see, what I hear, and who I interact with, I can broaden my characters and my details to more than what I have directly experienced. If we prefer something more topical, think of improvisation as being the Faceless Men of Game of Thrones. A man has no name (or a girl in Arya’s case) and we assume the skins and embody the characters of those we encounter.
So Yes. I use my family in my improv. I use my friends. Unlike the Faceless Men, there’s no violence or dissection in the process. Chances are if we’ve met, I’ve pulled something from your personality or our interaction, into a character. I mean it as a high form of praise.
Consider this your warning.
I want to hear from you
What questions about improvisation do you have? Respond to the original tweet, or comment below!
*Don’t get me wrong, there were good dates too, but the tragic ones are much more entertaining to retell.