Posted by Tuck | Filed under The Tuck
Today’s question comes from Vic Kettle from Carlisle, OK.
Vic writes: Tuck, I am auditioning at a local improv theater for the first time. I really want to get on a good team! What traits do you think people should have to make a great improve team.
Great question Vic! My advice is to think of your team as a group of superheroes who all have different super powers. If all of your superheroes have the same super powers, then you really don’t get much done. Also, if they all have the same weaknesses then everyone can be taken out with the same thing. So, you have to make sure that everyone can do different things really, really well.
If an average improv team has 10 members, here is what you should look for in each of them, in no particular order
1. The Great Scenework Person – This person is great to be in scenes with. They can create an immediate relationship and have fun playing within the scene that they are in. This person would be the Superman of the team. They are fun to watch and to be in a scene with. They do have a weakness though. When something comes up something that is abstract or arty, they tend to lose their way. You might notice the panicked look on their faces when someone starts something with just a weird sound or a quiet movement. The Superman will not know what to do and they can tend to freeze on the spot or slowly walk off stage.
2. Specific Time Period Person – This person has a wealth of knowledge about a couple of specific time periods. It is great when 18th century France or 1950’s rural Alabama become part of the show. This person knows everything about these time periods and can bring realism and information for both the audience and the rest of the team. Problem is, that is really the only thing they are good at. Everything else is tough for them. This person would be the Aquaman of the team. Great underwater. Can do nothing on land. Nothing!
3. The Off Stage Voices and Sounds Person – Calling for a crying baby, a thunderstorm, PA system from an Australian airport? This person is who you call on. They create such a real world of sound; people in the audience are looking around to see if there really IS a gas leak. But this person must stay in the shadows, for their super power is both a blessing and a curse. As soon as you see the person making the sound of the dirt bike hitting the flaming car and crashing, the veil has been lifted and no one ever believes them again.
4. The Physically Strong Person – Think Andre the Giant. This person can lift at least two people on the team at a time. They play furniture most of the time, but when needed, they stun the audience. Their curse is that they are only needed once every other year. But when they are needed, they are really needed.
5. The Woman
6. The Accountant Person – This person is usually one of the weaker players (see above). But they serve a valuable purpose. They book the room for rehearsal, make sure the coach gets payment, keeps track of who is going to be at rehearsal and who is on vacation. They are the ones you call or text that you are going to be late. They never miss a rehearsal, or unfortunately a show. They need help on stage, they flounder, they leave you shaking your head, but then they send out an email letting everyone know that you don’t have enough people for rehearsal so they have taken the liberty of canceling the room, notifying the coach, and giving the team the night off. Then you love them.
7. The Good, But Not Great Person – These players do a decent job when on stage. They are not going to wow anyone, or become the best improviser ever, but you need people on stage to do a decent job and make sure the show goes well. They will stick around for at least 3 years and always be solid, not spectacular. You need this player, but if you have too many of them, you become that improv team that people always see the poster of, but have never seen one of their shows.
8. The Great, and Knows It Person – This person is a stud. They walk on stage and everything becomes better. Scenes are clear and fun. Games make sense, characters are brilliantly conveyed. But, you get the drama with them. They always flirt with quitting the team, of going on their own. They are super cool, like Batman, a loner, a rock star. Everyone wants to be them, and they have slept with half the team and everyone knows it. They scream during rehearsal, threaten to punch the coach, and can be tiring to be around. But for 22-25 minutes a week, they are a God!
9. The Straight Man Person – They never get a laugh. Ever. But they set everyone else up. Everyone in a scene with them comes off as the best improviser in the world. Their brilliance is often over-looked by everyone other than the people on the team. They never get noticed, but might be the most valuable person on the team. Don’t. Be. That. Person.
10. The Blame Taker Person – Immediately after stepping off of the stage, this person apologizes for the show. They are sorry that they did this thing, and should have done that thing. They will work harder, they should have gotten out of your way, they ruined the show. This person makes you feel better about the show and your own performance in it. Every team needs this person, but sadly, they usually disappear after 6 months, needing to take a break from the team. They send a cryptic apology email, and you never hear from them again.
There you have it Vic. Hope you get on a team with a few of these people.