This past summer, Michael Delaney sent me an email decrying the state of improv. That in itself was not unusual (Hello, Delaney!). But in this particular email he outlined what I think is a brilliant way to measure whether someone has become an advanced improviser:
1) A good improviser habitually accepts the offers made to him.
2) A good improviser habitually makes active choices rather than passive ones.
3) A good improviser justifies.
He said these were based directly on “Del Close’s Kitchen Rules.” I had never heard of this, though according to The Funniest One In The Room, it’s actually Elaine May and Ted Flicker who made them during a run of improv shows in St. Louis in 1957. Del became the rules’ most ardent preacher. Elaine and Ted seemed to have called them the Westminster Place Kitchen Rules which sounds funny.
This re-popped up on my dashboard. It’s from almost three years ago. But those three kitchen rules are so so good.
I’ve been around a long time and this is my blog so I’m going to say a thing here and it’s good I’m not on facebook so I can’t post it on your news feeds but here goes also it’s really judgmental I’m sorry sorry sorry:
You are supposed to go to your indie team/house team improv practice every week.
I bet that’s even true for sketch teams or something but I’ve never been on one so who knows.
Not most weeks. Not 3/4 weeks. All the weeks for all the months. And the whole thing. Not the whole thing except the first half hour or the last twenty minutes. Or the middle third.
Having another professional commitment doesn’t make missing not count. You’re still not there because of, like, the time-space whatever.
Missing does not make someone a bad person. Being late doesn’t either. It doesn’t even make you a shitty teammate or less of an improv lover. But it does make you less committed to that team or project and that, like, matters.
So I think maybe don’t be mad when someone calls you on that? Or when there are repercussions for being less committed. And if it, like, happens a lot then that does become a thing.
Why am I even SAYING this?
Well, 1. because Robber Baron had a member who was a WRITER on 30 ROCK for the entirety of our run so we practiced every Saturday at noon for three hours and it’s not because we were suckers, it’s because that’s you did.
2. it’s less fun to coach/direct/teach under these new circumstances and I know it effects my commitment level too and that’s some damn bullshit on my part.
I am now going to end with a quote that is often incorrectly attributed to second President John Adams but actually comes from Peter Stone’s brilliant libretto for the musical 1776.
"Commitment, Abby, commitment. There are only two creatures of value on the face of this earth: those with a commitment, and those who require the commitment of others."