22 Dec Dear improv Santa
Dear Improv Santa,
It’s me, Jules. I know I haven’t written to you in a few decades, but in the absence of any viable authority figure in the normal order of things, I have come back now, at the age of almost forty. I know you are busy, so I’ll keep it brief.
Firstly, the formalities. Yes, I have been good this year. I have cleaned my teeth and paid money into my savings account. I have mostly stopped smoking and called my mother reasonably frequently. I made my bed more than half of the days, and have washed up much more than I’d like. My grandparents have all passed away, but I have thought about them the appropriate amount. I hope that is a clear enough picture. In the grand scheme, I am pretty sure I come up good.
There’s not much on my Christmas list really, Improv Santa, so I won’t make this a big deal. I have the clothing I need. My laptop is good for another couple of years and although I’ll eat chocolate if its put in front of me, I don’t much care much when its not. The Nursery would like a new building of course, but I think that’s on us to find, not you, and Judith knows what she’s doing.
So what I am asking for is this, Improv Santa. Next year, I want to see improv that matters. I want to see improv that made a difference to someone, whether that is the audience or the performers. I am sick of the cautious, the sideeye-to-the-audience is-this-ok improv. I love to laugh, Improv Santa, and I want to do hard and frequently, but I also want to watch improv where I recognise people as people. I want to do both those things at the same time and I also want to see things on an improv stage that make me lean forward and say “Huh, I didn’t realise you could do that.” I want to see improv which is unafraid to deal with something complex, that makes the uncomfortable laugh rather than accepting the easy laugh of a full room agreeing fullthroatedly.
I want improv with nuanced opinions, complex disagreement and empathetic discussion. I know Trump’s a joke, so let’s stop joking about him. I know gender is serious, so let’s stop being so serious about it.
Improv Santa, I want to see shows that reassure me that neither I, not anyone else is alone. I want to see characters I recognise doing things I couldn’t countenance. I want to be surprised, then surprised again, then surprised a third time at how I should have seen it all coming. That’s all.
I know you have a lot on your plate, Improv Santa, and a lot of improvisers writing you letters asking for mainstage slot, or help with character game, so I won’t keep you much longer. I just wanted to make a promise in return. If you give me this, I promise to never half ass a show again. I promise to show up ready to change. I promise to treat the creative process as both of those words and I promise to let myself be surprised often.
I promise I will contribute to what I am asking you for.
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