I have a performance coming up where I will be improvising within a two-hour session for Konica Minolta. My job is to spice up the presentation by playing four different ‘villains’. I represent the things that can go wrong in the day to day of a large organization such as Konica Minolta. Thus, rather than playing Darth Vader, I play ‘Darth Complacency‘. Get it? That kinda thing…
Oh, and did I mention that this performance will be taking place HERE?!?!!? The place will be filled (or close to) to capacity and I will be the only one improvising. I can’t even rely on my fellow master Broadway’s Next Hit Musical improvisers. Nope. I am out on my own on this and the tightrope is a tight one this time! Below are some of the potential pitfalls that can swallow you up when improv meets scripted material. Wanna know what to about these pitfalls? Keep reading.
HANdling It SOLO
The show will be scripted but I am being brought in to improvise. The rehearsal schedule is such that there will be no more than 2-3 run throughs before we do it live. In that time, I am tasked with improvising within the scenes with the various execs with whom I will be working. Here’s where the tightropes come in:
Tightrope 1: Focused Play
Similarly to when I perform as a corporate host / corporate emcee, I do have to be true to the script. I have to make sure the key points come across and I can’t go SOOOO insane that it becomes ‘The Rob Schiffmann Show’. I have to stay on message and make sure the focus is on the execs, the messaging, the products and the brand. At the same time, I do have to feel free enough to play and to find great moments IN the moment as it’s happening. These two seemingly contradictory tasks can come up against one another if I am not careful.
Tightrope 2: Keep Material Fresh
I also have to make sure to rehearse just enough to make the client feel safe and secure without rehearsing so much that the material is no longer being found in the moment. As soon as an improvised moment is rehearsed too much, it becomes more written than improvised and thus it loses the essential ingredient of self-discovery.
Tightrope 3: Close to the Edge
Finally, I have to walk to the edge of the comedy line and NEVER go over. I can push but I cannot knock down. And still, I have to be hilarious. Double Yowzers!!
Luke-ing Towards the Future
So, how will I defeat this Herculean Corporate Comedy Task, you ask?!?! I will go out with no abandon but with a clear sense of boundaries. I will say yes in the moment but be present enough to know how to manipulate that yes to where I need it to go. I will be smart and silly at the same time.
I will improvise!!