Improv Ruts


This scene was amazing and has nothing to do with improv ruts. It just makes the article look nicer when I post photos.

Having a bad string of shows, practices, or auditions really sucks. You might start to wonder if you'll ever have a good show again or if you should just give up and find a new hobby (like collecting cats). The good news is even the best improvisors get into ruts and it's really just a matter of time before you snap out. Sometimes it's your fault, but sometimes it's just a natural part of comedy.
A couple months ago I was focusing a lot on sketch and not so much on improv. It was weird having a great sketch show at a theater only to go to another theater the same night and have a bad improv show. It took me awhile before I realized that I was being lazy and playing it safe most of the time on stage. I would keep playing the same "characters" over and over and when I played myself I was apathetic. Obviously you can't do that in improv. You have to be ready to do anything on stage and play outside your comfort zone.

To the man who only has a hammer, everything he encounters begins to look like a nail.

—Abraham Maslow
The best way to get out of a rut is to try something different. Some people get scared to try new things on stage, but personally I could never get better if I just stuck with what always worked. I did this by going on stage, listening to my scene partner, and trying to make interesting choices that heightened their ideas. Supporting others is a great way to expand your range and become a better improvisor. I still might collect cats though.

Filed under: Advice

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    Bacon is an iO Training Center and Second City Conservatory graduate who lives on the north side of Chicago. You can see him perform on Saturday nights at 7:30pm with the HouseCo Second City Training Center cast of "Cry Me A Pancake" in The de Maat Theater. He also performs improv with the iO Theater Harold team "Apollo" and the independent team "Sophomore Album".

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