Chad's Improv Musings - Phylloxera


Root PhylloxeraWine makers have a nemesis know as phylloxera.  It’s a microscopic insect that eats away at the root of grapevines not native to that area.  If they try and plant another type of grapevine the insects will eat the root, eventually cutting off the nutrients to the plan thus killing the plant. The only way to grow a different type of grape in the region is by scoring the base of the grapevine and grafting the native vine to it.

Cool Chad, what does that have to do with improv?

I’m a nerd.  So here it is.  Improv is the native root.  You are the vine that gets scored to it.


I have students ask me all the time how they fit in.  I can’t do characters like Cindy or I can’t offer the big energy that Eric has or Jeremy is super smart and I could never come up with the things that he says.  You’re all grafted so the same vine...Improv.  What you bring to the vine is your life experiences, your intricacies, your voice.  Bring you, and be yourself.

I’ve had students that when they walk in the door and have very little to offer in terms of acting experience but TONS of wonderful baggage that potentially makes them grapesa terrific improvisor.  If those people can listen to what we’re teaching them and learn do a successful improv scene while pulling from all of their life experiences they’ll be perfect.  Rely on Cindy to do her characters, Eric will bring his energy and Jeremy will throw in clever wit that will bring the house down.  You’ll bring what you bring.  It’s necessary.  You’re a part of a whole.  They can’t do improv alone.  They need the straight man to set them up or to bring the scene back to even keel.

I’ve seen shows with all big characters.  It made me tired.  The best shows I’ve seen take me on a roller coaster.  Up and down.  Big energy tempered with regular energy or heck, purposefully low energy then RAMP IT BACK UP!  No edit?  Pull it back down and reload the energy, rinse, repeat.

We all bring what the vine needs.  Not everyone wants to drink Merlot all the time.  The great thing about improv is that it keeps people guessing.  A predictable show is avoided b/c not everyone is like Cindy.  Besides, she need to cool it with the Southern character.  ENOUGH ALREADY, CINDY, WE GET IT!