Is Improvisation on the Stage Starting to Influence Movies like “American Hustle?”

American Hustle Movie PosterImprovisation continues to be a comedy tool that has major influence beyond the stage. With many educational courses starting to be taught on improvisation, we’re starting to see it stretch all the way from business to those who just want to use it for creative freedom on the stage. It’s the latter’s reach that seems to be crossing over now into the movies. With the written word not always bringing fresh spontaneity that people want in movies, are we starting to see more improvisation in films without being told?

One example is recent “American Hustle” and reports in the media saying a good majority of it was improvised. For some who’ve seen it, they say it’s more than noticeable in the natural dialogue. Others haven’t necessarily noticed it that much. The director, David O. Russell, says only 1/3 of it was actually improvised with the rest of the movie utilizing pre-written lines nobody could have done on the fly. However, can a movie become so good at improvisation that brilliant lines become uttered on the spot?

Improv comedians might be considered to have a special knack for having enough fertile minds to spout brilliant material at will. Regardless, it takes years to help train and develop those skills. You can imagine what a movie might be like to hire actors with this ability to see what they can conjure in a movie. We already saw some evidence of this in Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries within the last 20 years. Movies like “Waiting for Guffman” on up to “For Your Consideration” were reportedly mostly improvised thanks to the improv backgrounds from his team of actors.

Perhaps some of Hollywood’s A-list actors can manage a little time in improv training to do the same thing. Or perhaps some material lends to saying certain things that can come out funny. When you have material as brilliant as “American Hustle”, anyone with acting training may find something to riff off of in any particular scene.

The next time you see an improv comic, realize just how much of what they’re doing is starting to rub off on Hollywood. While this might not bode well for actual writers, it’s not necessarily a death knell. It just may mean keeping scripts shorter and leaving gaps in the script for the stars to do more improv.

It’s a tactic even standup comedians may want to consider when spontaneity can frequently bring more comedic gold than something written days, weeks, or months in advance.

If you want to see the magic of improv and see how influential it can be, come see one of our improv performers here at the RISE Comedy Playhouse. We feature 20 different comedy improv shows, plus provide a course in improvisation so you can use it virtually anywhere in your life.

Contact us about tickets for our upcoming shows and take part in seeing how far of a reach we may be seeing improv into entertainment of the future.