Friday, February 5, 2010

Tomfoolery in Improv



Acting Stupidly and Doing It More

Written in the shadows of the i.O. West mainstage is a sentiment for all improvisors t see before they perform: "If it feels stupid, do it more."

My example of the week: these kids. The video, called "stupiD danCe" features three kids dancing bizarrely to an even more disturbingly-catchy tune. Although at first hesitant to watch the video due to the fourth-grader-using-AIM-for-the-first-time capitalization of random letters in the title, I clicked, and watched in amazement as 1 minute and 32 seconds of my life was spent watching nonsensical gyrations.

Which I realized...is just the point. If one of the lessons of improvising is to become like a child, these hip-moving hipsters hit the nail on it's bike helmet-wearing head. It felt stupid, so they did it more.

Clearly, it's an inhibition-less plea to strip away all safe guards, and commit with naturalistic flair to any series of foolish actions while on stage. After all, the safe road never created the world's best artists. But here in Los Angeles, isn't appearance everything? The way we dress, act, and who we associate ourselves with seems to permeate all distinctions of coolness, particularly on sultry weekend nights on Hollywood Blvd. (How do they fit into skirts that small?)

Bringing family members and friends to a show of yours is hopefully an impressive outing, one in which glitzy skills of the craft can rise to the surface. I can see where the "safe road" option while performing is appealing: saying all the funny lines, busting out the cool dance moves, and playing the character who is a Fonzi & Barney Stinson hybrid.

But maybe, just maybe, it is the absurd that turns heads. After Michael Jackson's death, L.A. Weekly referred to him as "fabulously fucking weird", not "on average normal". Maybe it's not the cool, suave all-knowing performers who are remembered, but rather the bizarre creatures bred out of the depths of inner turmoil and mental rarities. The willingness to break down the barriers of a "tough-guy" physique could have it's payoffs. Who knows?

iT cOuLd lAnD yoU 90,000 hiTs oN YouTube.

Yours in awesomeness,
J.D. Durkin

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