Eight is NEVER Enough's Improv Study Guides
"THE TEAM" by Walt Frasier
Improv, if nothing else, is a team sport.
The greatest moments in improvisation come form a group of performers working together. We always talk about listen and respond, "YES AND", and other rules, but to really achieve GREAT improv, you need to dig deeper. You need to actually care about the people on stage with you. Beyond listening you need to look for body language and other signals that increase communication. Some call this chemistry. I call this a deep commitment by each individual to create a team environment.
CHEMISTRY is easy when everyone are best friends. But in the professional world you may or may not care to go out afterwards socially with the people you work with everyday. In fact you often want a break so you can remain fresh in performance. But players committing to the team can achieve this same or even higher level of chemistry. Listening and watching intensely allows you to give focus to your team mates and then respond with greatness.
SUPPORTING YOUR TEAM MATES is key. Your goal onstage should be first and foremost to make your teammates look good. Constantly giving them material to work with and adding details. This is the heart and true meaning of YES AND… Total selfless performances.
Something magical then occurs. One, all fear goes out the window. When the whole team works this way you feel support in return. You will then create scenes that are so interesting – full of details and action – the audience will think they are watching something written by one of the great playwrights.
You learn quick in a good team that showboating and one liner jokes ends a scene, rarely moving things forward. Your team will not put up with it. The team will get better and leave you behind. There is very little room in Improv for BAD stand-up comedy. The best Improv is a process of great theater.
Walt Frasier has appeared on film, TV, Commercials and is a founding member of the NYC-based improv troupe "Eight is NEVER Enough" and is director of intruction for the COMEDY HALL OF FAME FOUNDATION. You can also see him live in LMAO Off-Broadway