In Defense of Slowness: Why Quick Thinking Isn’t Essential for Improv Success

by Success Improv
6 months ago

In today’s fast-paced world, we are often told that quick thinking is essential for success. Whether it’s in the workplace, in sports, or in entertainment, the ability to think on your feet and make split-second decisions is often touted as a crucial skill. However, when it comes to improv, the art of creating spontaneous, unscripted scenes and stories, this emphasis on quick thinking may be misguided.

In fact, some of the most successful improv performers argue that slowness, rather than quick thinking, is the key to improv success. In her book “In Defense of Slowness: Why Quick Thinking Isn’t Essential for Improv Success,” renowned improviser and teacher Linda Johnson makes a compelling case for the value of taking your time and being present in the moment.

One of the main reasons why slowness is so important in improv is that it allows performers to fully embrace the fundamental principles of the art form. Improv is all about listening, connection, and collaboration, and these things require time. When performers slow down and really listen to each other, they can better understand and react to what is happening in the scene.

Slowness also allows performers to tap into their creativity and imagination. In the pressure to think quickly, there is a tendency to rely on predictable, surface-level choices. When performers take their time, they can dig deeper and explore more unexpected, interesting choices.

Additionally, slowness can help foster a sense of presence and authenticity in improv scenes. When performers slow down, they can be more in tune with their emotions and the emotions of their scene partners. This allows for more genuine, meaningful interactions and performances.

Ultimately, the argument for slowness in improv is not a rejection of quick thinking altogether. Rather, it is a reminder that there is value in taking one’s time and being deliberate in the creative process. There are moments in improv where quick thinking is necessary, but those moments are often best served by a foundation of presence and awareness, which can be cultivated through slowness.

In a culture that often glorifies speed and efficiency, it can be refreshing to consider the value of slowness in improv. Performers who embrace this approach may find that it not only enhances their performances, but also allows them to connect more deeply with their scene partners and audiences. So, the next time you find yourself in an improv scene, remember that sometimes, the best choice may not be the quickest one.