Improv is like Hockey. In the way that it’s like hockey, it’s also like basketball and soccer, so you can think of it in those terms too.
Funniness is offense
Offense is the most accessible part of organised sport; everyone loves a goal, a home-run, a slam-dunk. Offense in improv is funniness–it makes the audience cheer and swoon, and it attracts newcomers with its glamour.
From Rocket Richard to Alex Ovechkin, the truly offensively gifted are naturally talented. While experience and training will hone the naturally gifted person’s skills, no amount of study and practice will turn journeyman players into superstars.
Story is defense
Connoisseurs value the defensive game, and see the artistry in the goaltender’s dual, the pitcher’s dual, the perfect game. Defense in improv is story–it gives fundamental structure to the game plan.
Defensemen take longer to make it to the major leagues than forwards, because they need to gain a lot of experience to be good at defense. Storytelling requires talent, sure, but it take years of proper coaching and experience for everything to come together.
Defense wins championships.
In hockey, offense begins with the transition game from defense. In other words, how the defensemen are able to get the puck up to the forwards is crucial in building a successful attack. Improv is the same–funniness flows from story.
It stands to reason that if your story is falling apart, then you are lost in your own zone without a hope of getting the puck up ice for a laugh.
Are you a winger–a natural goal-scorer who delivers the buzzer-beating laughs?
Are you a centre–a play-maker, a team leader in assists who sets up all those zingers for the wingers to tap in?
Are you a defensemen–a behind-the-play architect who sets up interesting platforms and moves the story forward?
Your team needs wingers, centres and defensemen. If you are building a new cast, or looking to add a member to your team, look at where your team needs help.
Coaches love a forward who back-checks to help our the defense, and a defenseman who can join the rush on offense. Nothing obliges you to be a one-dimensional player. In fact, on some nights, you may be called to play out of position in order to help the team.
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