“T.E. Lawrence, eponymously of Arabia but very much an Englishman, favoured pinching a burning match between his fingers to put it out. When asked by his colleague William Potter to reveal his trick, how is it he effectively extinguished the flame without hurting himself whatsoever, Lawrence just smiled and said, “The trick, Potter, is not minding it hurts.”—Prometheus
If someone throws something, do your eyes follow the path of the object?
If someone gets stabbed or shot, do you wince in pain?
If someone enters a scene, do you notice whether they left the door open?
If someone tosses someone to someone else, and the person fails to catch it, do you imagine the object hitting the person and falling to the floor?
You would if it were actually happening. If I chucked a book at you, you’d wince and turn away, then the book would hit you, and then you’d turn back, angry at me. But someone throws a book at someone in an improv scene, and the most that most people will say is “Ouch! You threw a book at me!”
If you don’t believe, in that very moment, that those objects are real, that each one has its own weight and location, then stop wasting my fucking time. You’re standing on stage, saying shit you think is funny, and only the boring people are laughing.
The best improv advice I ever received was around the time I was taking 201. It wasn’t from an improviser. It was from my former boss at Myspace, Manu Rekhi, who was mentoring me on my career and life in general.
He said, “If someone asks you for a favor, do it. If it’s at all possible, do it.” His point was that when you’re a good person, people respond to that. People will treat you better and you surround yourself with a higher quality of person without any effort at all. This makes you happier, more fulfilled and closer to succeeding at just about anything in life. Because you build a kind of karma and you foster a community.