I got this pillow because it reminds me of pretty much all of my favourite improvisers.
Regardless of their improv training or background, when they get onstage they’re not thinking about rules. They just play.
Cameron was coaching Jason Donovan a few years ago, and he told me proudly how Jason killed it in a competitive jam.
Players had to perform a scene, then do the same scene again, and again. Each time, one person would be eliminated by the audience.
Jason won by doing the same scene but coming in as a different character each time. While everyone else was trying to remember exactly what they did the time before, Jason went in as a robot. Or talked in gibberish. Or whatever.
He didn’t think, “The rules say we have to do the same scene, the same way, every time.” He just had fun. And the audience loved it.
Reminds me of this great quote from Greg Hess, courtesy of Jimmy Carrane:
“Cook County Social Club was just five buddies trying hard to make each other crack up.”
There are only two rules to comedy and only two, regardless of whether you are an improviser, a stand up or a sketch performer. Everything else is a guideline; you use it, you don’t, adapt it to fit what you are doing, whatever.
So now your wondering “What are these two rules of which he speaks?” These rules are absolute, must be adhered and cannot be ignored, omitted or in any way altered. They also compliment each other and must be considered in tandem. They are simply this:
Rule #1: NOTHING IS SACRED. You can debate me ’till the cows come home but you MUST have the flexibility to consider any topic as being capable of generating humour or you are limiting yourself and hurt our comedic potential, and that will ruin you in the long run.
Rule #2: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. It’s one thing to be edgy or push the envelope, it’s another to alienate the very people you are trying to entertain.
Everything else, as Sally & Cameron are saying above, is up to you. Anybody can get a job they hate. Have fun; why else do you do this???
Agree with #1, Peter. #2 is trickier, since everyone interprets comedy differently. (From our advertising experience, it’s virtually impossible not to offend someone, somewhere, no matter what you say.) But we’ll assume you mean “Don’t be a douchebag.” ; )