words of wisdom from John

If you know John, you’re probably already familiar with many of these DON’Ts from his improv musings circa two years or so ago…

We are constantly told to say YES in improv. Well, here’s a list of DON’Ts

* Rehearse in front of an audience. Rehearse during rehearsals. People are paying money to watch you put on a show, not a rehearsal.
* Feel like you should do something, or should be able to do something. If you can’t do it, you can’t do it. Focus on what you can do, and do it to the best of your ability. If you really want to do something (a certain game, a format, musical improv, etc) take classes, and rehearse your ass off.
*  Get stagnant. Don’t do the same thing over and over again. Your improv show will become predictable, and will turn into a sketch show.
*  Be “bold, creative, or weird!” It’s painful… PAINFUL to watch improvisers try impress an audience with their “bold, weird, and/or creative” choices. It’s contrived. It doesn’t come from a genuine place. It’s boring. Don’t do it. Be yourself. You’ll surprise the hell out of yourself.
* Goof around before or during the show in the parking lot, or in the house. The audience can see you. They can hear you. Your family and friends are there to see you perform, not hang out with you. It’s important to make them feel welcomed, but you’re not there to hang out. Hang out with them after the show.
*  Get arrogant. Remember where you came from. Remember where you were seven months (weeks, years, days) ago. Stay humble. Walk the walk, so you don’t have time to talk the talk.
*  Call back jokes from another troupes set. If a team opens for you, don’t make a joke about something that happened in their set. It looks premeditated. It’s disrespectful to the other team. You’ll look like a chump.
*  Blow off warm ups. Focus and concentrate during warm-ups. Shake off the rust. Increase your energy. Focus with your team. Let go of all your problems, and get ready to rock.
*  Joke around with the host while he or she is introducing your act. The host is working very hard to get the audience ready for YOU. Making jokes and asides doesn’t help. Shut up, and don’t talk until the host is finished talking, or he or she talks to you.
*  Punch or kick people for real. It’s a great way to hurt someone.
*  “Kill” or “knock out” people. Killing or knocking someone out is your way of telling them to get the hell off the stage. If you pull out a gun and kill your scene partner, you can no longer do a scene. Duh!
*  Do scenes that take place in a proctologist’s office. Proctology scenes go one place… the butt.
*  Lose track of what the scene is about.
*  Drink or do drugs before or during a show. Drunk and high people suck at improv. Don’t tell me you’re better drunk or high. You’re not.
* Drink heavily or do drugs after the show in the venue that you’re performing at. The audience, club/bar/theater owner and the other performers know you’re wasted. It looks really bad. You want to do that stuff, fine. Do it somewhere else. Don’t shit where you eat.
*  Give actors from another troupe notes about their show unless they ask for them. This is a great way to piss people off. It’s rude. It’s arrogant. It’s unprofessional.
* Go to another performer’s show and act like his/her show is beneath you. If you’re not truly interested in supporting what other people are doing, then find something else to do with your time.
* Act inappropriately at someone else’s shows when you go and watch them. Be a polite audience member.
*  Get in your head.
* Let your emotions get the better of you.
*  Let adrenaline get the better of you.
* Worry about screwing up… you will
* Be funny… If you get up in front of a group of people with the intention of being funny, you will then try to be funny. People who try to be funny, are not funny. They are annoying. Also, comedy and improv are not synonymous. You can have a scene that is full or drama, that doesn’t get a single laugh. If it doesn’t get a laugh, don’t worry as long as it’s good .
* Have a long memory. If you make an ass out of yourself, blow it off. It pays to have a short attention span.”

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