If there is one thing that fascinates me about improv and that is how it is portrayed in Television and Film. This is becoming more and more apparent in recent years because the comedy art form is sort of in fashion. There are some interesting topics that we can gain from these ways they are displayed so every so often we are going to look at different scenes from different shows and films.
There’s Something About Movies
In the last few weeks I have started to watch There’s Something About Movies, I am a fan of League of Their Own (who are the brains behind this and also make this show) so I thought I would give this show a go. I didn’t watch it any earlier because there has been such an increase in game shows over lockdown that I was a bit game showed out. However, this popped up on the featured shows and decided to watch the original series before watching the new episodes.
The show is a panel game with captains Mikey Flannagan and Michael Sheen in the early episodes and then Jennifer Saunders replaced Mikey after season one. The show has number of different rounds that are related to film related trivia, however the section of the show I am going to discuss is the last part because I was really surprised to see that improv takes the centre stage. Have a look at this scene with Micky Flanagan improvising with Lily Collins acting.
For the final game in the show, the guest and the team captain have to recreate a famous scene in a film – the only catch is one of them has the script and the other doesn’t so they have to improvise the dialogue in the scene. It is so great to see this improv game as the centre of a comedy show as it is one of the best improv games to play as an improviser. However, saying that, you notice very early which sort of people are good at improv and who finds it difficult.
From watching this game you start to understand a few key things about improv and in particular this game, and here are some of the thoughts I have had:
+ No matter what commit to what you say
Improv can lead you to say some really random things and these can actually be really highlighted in a game like this when one person is improvising. When you watch this game in the show it comes to light that this scene only works really well if you commit to what you say. Instead of going off and answering every answer or statement in the scene, remember what YOU first set up and continue exploring that idea. Some of the best scenes I have seen in this show work well when this happens.
+ The best improv is not always the audiences winner
I have found watching this show a really interesting sort of social experiment to see how audience members that are maybe not fans of improv react to the scenes. At the end of the game they tend to vote for which scene they preferred the most and a lot of the time the best from an improv sense does not win. There have been some amazing scenes of improv where the comedian has committed to what they are saying and the rules of improv and they have lost the vote dramatically. It is really interesting to see and makes you remember and keep in mind that the audience may not always love the most polished improv and enjoy the failures more.
+ Film scripts work really well
Whenever I have played this game we have only ever used the dialogue from theatre scripts or books and I have to say watching it with film scripts it is so impressive. It is amazing how well it works with them and would love to try it one day.