There are many comedy clubs that specialize on improv throughout the country, such as Second City and The Improv (Truth in Comedy from Charna Halpern and Del Close). The reason there are so many improv clubs around the country is that it is a popular form of comedy, the reasons why will be expounded upon later in this post. Some of these clubs don’t employ true improv, most of the sketches are written and revised before the performers get on stage, and a large portion of the material is being developed for upcoming shows. True improv can be very hit or miss, there isn’t much worse than bad improv, so it makes sense that these clubs don’t use true improv every night.
The three big comedy theories from the first week of class can be used to explain why improv is such a popular piece of comedy. The superiority theory can explain why improv can be so funny. Really bad improv is similar to cringe humor, you almost feel uncomfortable listening to it. As an audience member, I could also laugh at how bad it is and think that even I could do better than that. It is like the scene of Michael Scott from the Office trying to control the improv, it is funny partly because he is so bad and we feel superior to his character. One of the rules of improv is “keep it simple, less is more.” It can be humorous to see a comedian pressing to make the scene funny. Incongruity can also explain why imporv is popular. People like certain comedians for their style and the types of jokes they tell, which is fine. With improv, the jokes that come from the scenes are often unexpected, you don’t know what is coming and that enhances the comedy.
My questions are related to the key points of improv from Halperns book. Do you agree with Halpern that “there’s nothing funnier than the truth? Can silence during improv enhance the experience?