As a performer who went to school for performance. I know many persons in various performance areas. I have blessedly been spared knowing any improvisors (well enough to feel obligated to attend their shows that is) up until this point.
Last night, husband and I attended an improv show. (School night- gasp!)
A very good friend, TR, with whom I have a music project, has recently graduated from the Annoyance Theater Program and this was his end-of-classes show. (For those of you unfamiliar with the cut-throat improv and sketch comedy scene in Chicago, remind me to give you the low down on all the players at some point)
The new Annoyance space, located just north of the Green Mill on Broadway, is really freakin' awsome. I loved the relaxed, edgy-but-elegant decor and feel of the front bar area. Drinks are reasonably priced. The stage area is well set up, seating is plentiful and relatively comfortable.
Improv is not my favorite medium. When improv is good you are generally even more enthoused about it then you would if it had been a written scene, mainly because you are so amazed that it is good. When improv is bad, it is often. mostly, actually.
It started ominously enough. As we walked down the street looking for the theater I said "Could that be it? The one with the group of people standing in front of it, smoking and trying to be funny?" Why o why must improvisors stand in front of the building trying to call attention to themselves before you even get in the door? Nevermind, I'll tell you my suppositions on the psychology of improvisors another day.
TR's group performed first and was actually pretty damn funny. I was admittedly, not sober, but I do think they had several stand outs in the group and in general, everyone on stage seemed to be paying attention to each other and listening.
We could have left then.
I had half a Fat Tire left to drink and we were in high spirits from the previous show so.....
The 2nd show was painful. Like get me outta here painful. Seated in the front row made it hard to beat an unobtrusive retreat. Basically, everything you don't want to see, all the terrible traps of improv were there. The partner that says "No"and turns every scene into an argument. People coming on to start a new scene while the people in the current scene have no idea they were being cut off. Gratuitous gay and butt sex jokes. ( I hate how improv going south inevitibly degenerates into sex and poop jokes. Husband's and I's favorite tag line when making fun of improv is to say " And then.... I shit in her face!" with a big grin and jazz hands. maybe you have to see it to get that...)
So yes, improv can be good Louise. But don't let one experience fool you and be careful of what you go to see...