Some improv acts focus on themed shows, others focus more on the art of the game – but whatever style you are as a troupe the most important thing is to go on a field trip to improve your knowledge. If you are in a show for example that is themed, it is really important to know your brand well enough so that people new to it or who have extreme knowledge and you can throw in the odd joke that anyone can understand.
I have interviewed a lot of themed improv shows, everyone from Doctor Whoprov to Austentatious and I am always really interested as to how much research they do with the original content. They all have read the books, know the television shows well enough to refer to the characters they need to. A lot of the time they are referring to new characters that the audience choose and create however having these references really heighten the experience.
I went and saw Improvised James Bond, Shaken Not Stirred and whilst all the enemies were created at the show that day, they asked the audience what James Bond they wanted to see. Daniel Craig won that day I saw it and that meant the improviser could imitate that style of Bond in this made up world. Without this knowledge or research, this could not of happened, whilst I haven’t seen Daniel Craig Bond films (Sean Connery is my Bond) I really appreciated the dryness and the style it was portrayed. I event went with a Daniel Craig fan and he praised his style as well.
Last year I was part of Laugh Island which is a parody the Love Island show and all of us did so much research into the characters, the sayings to make sure we could reference it all. In a lot of our shows we may not of had many fans of the show in but when we did we could make those references and get a laugh from them and they loved it in an improv scenario.
Even if you are in a group that is not themed, you should make the effort to go on ‘field trips’ with your team to see other improv acts to see how they approach the stage and what you can do to make you act improve.