Improvisation, or improv, is a form of live theater where performers create scenes, characters, and dialogue on the spot, without a script. One of the most common misconceptions about improv is that quick thinking is the most important skill for success. However, the truth is that slow and thoughtful improvisation often leads to the best results.
It’s easy to see why the myth of quick thinking exists. Improv performers are faced with the daunting task of creating something out of nothing, in front of a live audience. The pressure to be quick on your feet and come up with witty one-liners can be overwhelming. But the truth is, the best improv comes from a place of thoughtfulness and careful consideration.
One of the key principles of improv is “Yes, and,” which means accepting and building on whatever your scene partner has offered. This requires active listening and a willingness to slow down and really be present in the moment. When performers are too focused on being quick, they can miss important details and opportunities for collaboration.
Additionally, quick thinking can often lead to clichés and overused jokes. When performers are rushing to come up with the first thing that pops into their head, they may fall back on tired tropes and stereotypes. On the other hand, taking the time to think through a scene can lead to more original and creative choices.
Furthermore, slow and thoughtful improvisation allows performers to fully develop their characters and relationships. By taking the time to really consider the motivations and desires of their characters, performers can create more complex and nuanced scenes. This depth and richness is what sets great improv apart from simply being a series of quick jokes.
In fact, some of the most acclaimed improv performers and troupes emphasize the importance of taking it slow. The renowned improv theater, The Second City, has long championed the idea that “slow is smooth, smooth is fast.” This philosophy centers around the idea that by taking the time to fully understand and explore a scene, performers can ultimately be more successful.
Ultimately, the myth of quick thinking in improv is just that – a myth. Slow and thoughtful improvisation is what truly wins the game. By prioritizing active listening, collaboration, and the development of rich and original characters, performers can create scenes that are truly unforgettable. So the next time you find yourself on the improv stage, remember that it’s okay to take a moment to breathe and really consider your choices. Slow and thoughtful wins the game.