In a world of video cameras on phones, social media galore and everything being ‘sharable content’ – should improv be left on the spot of should it be something that is recorded for people to watch at a later date? I think the world of Lockdown changed the way that the community look at the use of video in the comedy art form as it was a way to directly engage with their audiences in a time where it was impossible to perform on stage. However, when it comes to physically recording improv to use for later is it worth it?
I have always been in two minds about this debate and I am sure that there are many out there that strongly disagree with the use of video and also those who strongly agree. I believe in the sense that fantastic comedy is something that most of the time you leave in your head as a memory and remember it how you originally saw it on stage. It can be a great way to relive something in the gold lights that you originally saw it in. Also, unlike musical gigs, there is a good possibility that you may never watch it again and it was a waste of time to record it in the first place.
However, saying that I understand why people want to film shows. Improv is made up on the spot and sometimes people are watching such a hilarious show that they want a physical copy so that they can remember it after. I have had a few people come to my shows and film our performance here and there and the smiles on their faces after a show I still remember vividly in my head. I have one friend even all these years later that still has video footage of one of my shows and still really enjoys it.
Look at stand up shows – so many comedians go out of their way to make sure that their content is recorded into a special so that people can rewatch it over and over again if they desire. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know that improv is a very hard thing to translate into video footage and a lot of the time does not work well. However, you only need to watch the specials that are now popping up on streaming platforms such as Netflix to realise that there is an audience for it.
I think this is going to be a debate that is going to always be one that has points to both sides. I understand why acts may not like people filming it and I understand why there are rules in place to stop filming at venues, the same you do with stand up or theatre as a whole. However, maybe try and put the odd clip on your social media page to promote your show. It may not be something that you like but there will be someone out there that will appreciate it and would love to see a clip to entice them to come to the show.
After a couple of years of not being able to physically go to a show, I feel it would be wrong to 100% go back to not filming parts of sets, I feel that there is always an audience who will want to see clips who cannot necessarily come to a show in person for various reasons.