When you take improvisation lessons here in Denver, you’re not only giving yourself more confidence, you could also help nurture an acting career if you’re working toward one. Here at the RISE Comedy Playhouse, we hold regular improvisation classes in our Denver headquarters that help people from all walks of life. But we’re starting to see many actors come in to help better their careers. Why, though, is comedy improv helping actors so much? On the national level, some evidence is coming forward that tells the secrets of how improv works on scripted TV shows.
Some evidence came from a recent Huffington Post interview with comedy actor Zach Woods who stars in HBO’s “Silicon Valley.” In the interview, Woods notes that he frequently places improvised lines into his scenes on “Silicon Valley” that usually make the final cut. Frequently, those lines are funnier than what’s in the original script, though improv also helps Woods give a more natural rhythm to the jokes written by the writers.
It helps that Woods was an improv comedy sketch performer in the past to help tap into those skills. And it’s also worth noting his background in improv gives him a sense of control rather than just being a comedy machine churning out on-the-spot jokes. Is it an approach we’ll see more of in scripted TV shows?
Improv on TV
With dramas, you frequently see natural dialogue you have to assume is improvised to some degree. While many might think improv in drama is challenging and comedy improv isn’t, you might be surprised. It’s not easy to do comedy well in any context, let alone inventing in the moment. For ensemble work, finding a proper comedy rhythm also isn’t easy and usually has to be done intuitively.
That’s something we teach in our Denver improv classes here at RISE Comedy Playhouse. We teach the idea that feeding off each other and not turning down any comedy concept will help take your comedic mind to places you never thought you could go. Bringing a sense of naturalness to acting is also important in today’s acting climate when so many shows have a more natural and less rehearsed style mimicking real life.
It’s a different angle to improv you perhaps never thought could help in bettering your acting technique. Along with this, doing improv with other people helps you understand other personalities so you can easier create chemistry.
Seeing more of this in the future on TV is almost a given. Considering improv is already being used frequently in movies, cable is bringing the same sense of realism to their shows. Any actor taking improv classes now might be able to land a job on a cable show. Hopefully, though, they’ll receive credit for inventing lines on the spot when the Emmy nominations for writing come pouring in.