I saw some incredible improv at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, packed tightly into just three days of action. What struck me most about the performers was how hard they committed to the show and the scenes they were in, and it paid off. Of course their acting skills, communication, humour and all round genius also helped.
Something often we see in people relatively new to improv is the fear. The fear to place your fate in a scene on yes and-ing. Maybe the other player won’t support your move, maybe you don’t have a clue what to say next, maybe you’re still concerned about looking like a dick. We try really hard to get rid of that last one – improv is play time for adults (and kids too, but we don’t mix well), and the daft games at the beginning where we all do silly things together helps to shake that off.
Comedy is a place for people to look ridiculous, but it’s always worth reflecting on whatever kind of comedy you enjoy that the joke only ever works when the actors commit to what they’re doing. If you do something half-arsedly it will look like crap. You can assume the most ludicrous character, say the most appalling things (thanks Martin) and do the lewdest darkest improv as long as you commit to it and don’t hold back. Equally it makes the fluffiest, gentlest humour funny too.