The Stereotypes of Improv by Louis Schwartz

Improv is a big part of my life. I do improv after school every Friday and I’m improvising this blog right now. Let’s do a couple of generic examples of what people think when they think of improv.

“Well, what do I write about...give me a random prompt…a relationship…” 
Prompt #1: Boyfriend/Girlfriend:

Boyfriend: Well…what do you want to do tonight?
Girlfriend: Dinner? Movie? How about going back to your place?
Boyfriend: That’s so generic. We always do that. 
Girlfriend: No…

Hold on stop. This is improv, I can’t say no. Why can’t I say no? 5 letters, PAWDS. PAWDS is what you can’t do in improv. It stands for P(rofanity) A(ddictive Substances) W(eapons) D(enial) and S(exual Innuendos). These things either don’t move the scene along or just don’t make it funny.
“Yes and…” I hate when people think they know what improv is all about and then say, “yes and…”. Do you want to know what the dialogue sounds like if you just keep saying “yes and…” during the whole thing? 
New Prompt…Occupation:
Prompt #2 (the “yes and…” scene): Nurse

Nurse: So what seems to be your problem today?
Patient: My shin hurts, it feels like it’s broken.
Nurse: Yes and how is the pain on a scale of 1-10.
Patient: Probably an 8.
Nurse: Yes and is there a particular doctor you would like to see today?
Patient: Um…yes I would like to see Dr. [insert name of doctor here].
Nurse: Yes and (s)he’s not here today.

Is it getting annoying to you yet? It’s getting annoying to me. So there are two stereotypes that are always associated with improv. The other one is that you always have to crack a sexual innuendo for it to be funny. This is a common thought among people whose only views on improv is the TV show Whose Line is it Anyways. You don’t need a sexual innuendo to make something funny in improv; just be funny yourself. So all in all, the main thing I’m trying to get across is...try doing some improv but don’t fall into the stereotypes of “no”s and “yes and”s. Join us in 2nd semester! It’s every Friday after school in the small auditorium!

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