It’s not everyday that I will use this article to promote a television show but today I felt that I should. I could sit here and go on about Whose Line Is It Anyway but come on, everyone knows about that show and I don’t want to be talking down to anyone.
I would say most people reading this site would of heard of the Comedy Central (or TruTV if you are in the States) show Impractical Jokers . It is sort of hard NOT to have heard of it these days as it has got pretty big, has many tours, a cruise and even a filmed linked to the show. However those who do not watch it may not realise that they are missing out on an improv treat of a show.
Of course, it is a television show and that is one thing you really have to remember when going into it – of course there are production values that will and do play a part. However, these guys are from an improv background and used to be known as the Tenderloins and if you watch certain episodes and seasons (particularly the earlier ones) strong improv lessons can be seen in process in real life environments.
Take any episode of impractical jokers and watch it from an improvisers angle. Forget the fact it’s a television show and really watch the improv that is happening. I watch this show a lot these days as I find it pretty funny and it’s also good to have sometimes in the background as just noise.
The other day I watched an episode and really focused on the improv skills that were being used. It is not just the “Yes Ands” but it is the actual format and basic improv skills you can actually see on display. It is a really interesting case study to watch because it is so fun seeing how members of the public react to some of the most silliest actions.
The best improv related games I suppose are the ones that include storytelling as it is a key element of a lot of the games. Watching how a joker can expand on a situation they have been given and seeing how silly then can actually make it is very fun and really refreshing. My personal favourite games of Impractical Joker is the physical ones because they can end up the most funniest. They always end in really silly ways which make this show as popular as it is.
Another thing that you can take away from this show is the team work and friendships that involved in improv. The four Impractical Jokers have known each other since high school so they have a strong bond and know how each of the other works (that is why a lot of the time they spend it setting each other up to fail.) It metaphorically proves that friendship and bonds are important in every environment when it comes to improv as you rely o your team members to help you through a scene even if it is in a real life environment.
Another thing that the show does that is not true to most improv is that you interact with the audience a lot. Again, this is a really interesting and important point to look at in regards to what improvisers can take away from this experience and how it can be used on stage. The main core of this show is waiting to see how members of the public react to things that the Jokers do, the response is mainly laughter and thinking that the ‘player’ is odd and then you have the odd few that backfire and do not like it. By watching television shows like this and analysing the audience interaction it could lead to new and potential innovative forms on improv that is performed on the stage.
If you are not a fan of the show, honestly give this show a try just to look at it in an improv sense because at the end of the day it is a good case study.