Day: March 12, 2011

Holy Panacea!

The tweet going around the improv world in response to the tragedy of Japan: “When the size of statistics are too great for the tragedy to retain any meaning, laughter is the only human response left.”

This is sort of my issue with improv. I like it. I respect it. When it’s good, I enjoy it. When it’s bad, I enjoy it…and not in a snotty way.  I don’t enjoy it when it’s smug or falls into the “if you don’t find it funny, you just don’t get it.” (This was my issue with an improv/sketch scene that told that the real Diary of Anne Frank was nothing but porn movie suggestions.)

I’ve once too often encountered this mythology that improv heals all, that it is, as one of my instructors said, “The ONLY honest art form. The only one that’s true. The only one that’s real.”  (Implied: It’s all good, sometimes bordering on holy.)

And I feel a need to explain that I have witness improv magic, and on a few wonderful occasions, been part of some magical improv. 

That’s arrogant, and, in my opinion, very very wrong. Improv can be honest. It can be real. It can be really funny. Improvisers are no more or less heroes than other artists. They are brave, yes. Brave-r? Sometimes.

Not all improvisers, of course, hold this opinion, and most would never admit aloud that they know anyone who holds it.  But it’s there. 

Sometimes the only human response left is action.