For those of you that follow me regularly you will notice that an awful lot of my recent gigs haven't been stand-up performances...they've been improv comedy. But what is an 'improv'?
Improv is just a show way of saying Improvisational, as in 'Improvisational Comedy'. Essentially, all the jokes that we (the Improv Revolution troupe) perform are made up entirely on the spot. Perhaps the most well-known example of Improv Comedy comes from 'Whose Line Is It Anyway?', the hugely popular US (and UK, but it's not as good) TV show in which 4 comedians play a series of games.
For me personally, I love performing improv. It means that I don't really have to prepare too much in advance, can act scenes as several different characters and get to share the stage with some of my closest friends, all of whom happen to be hilarious.
Improv, under the guidance of our amazing director Mina Liccione, follows 3 simple rules:
Say "Yes and..."
Listen to your partner.
These 3 rules make sure that the scene seems real and progresses forward. There's nothing worse than finding yourself in a dead-end situation that just isn't really going anywhere. If your partner says that you are in a castle and a dragon is attacking you, you better be damn sure that you'll act like it and try to find an escape route from his fiery breath.
All of this might seem simple and, when you watch one of our shows, you might think that we're just naturally good at it, but that wouldn't be true either. The core troupe of Omar, Mishal, Bashar, Alex, Mina and myself have now been together for almost 4 whole years! And over this time we have met regularly (almost once a week) to just drill games, formats and characters.
Sometimes the drilling can become tiresome because you feel that your 'three-line scene' game is on point, but there's nothing wrong with the basics, just like a footballer practicing passing...it's essential to the game.
Week in week out we'll practice games and their specific formats. Who goes where and what should we be looking for. But the content itself, the jokes, the real improv is, yes, all made up on the spot. Luckily, however, having a troupe that is both talented and well-bonded means that we're now at a point where we're all on the same wavelength and can almost read each others minds. Plus, we know exactly how far we can push the other members and we can play to their strengths.
For example, I can do a lot of accents and characters; Omar is the same, but can also bring out the funny one-line jokes when needed; Mish'al isn't afraid to get physical, bringing a new dimension to a scene; Bashar brings realism and a new type of person and Alex is a great person to drive forward a scene to the next step (otherwise the rest of us would just stand still making jokes over and over).