Food and Improv
As an avid watcher of Kitchen Nightmares and an obsessive hunter of new restaurants, I like to think of myself as a foodie.
Now, allow me to defend myself from all the outcries of “food snob” and “pretentious douche” that the foodie label attracts. I do not look down upon any foods, unless they’re poorly made. It’s a matter of recognizing what I’m paying for. I enjoy a good Big Mac and fries from McDonald’s, because I recognize it for what it is. However, if a restaurant claims to be “authentic Italian cuisine” but cannot cook their noodles properly, then cue the snobby comments.
I’ve watched a lot of improv, across the spectrum of very bad (yes, I tape my own performances and watch them) to outstanding. As far as assessing a show, it’s very important to see each show in the proper context. If a show is billed as “the best improv show in ______,” then of course you may raise your expectations for it. But assessing an intro class show at the same level of critique as a TJ and Dave show is misguided.
There appears to be a tribalistic fracture in improv. Whether it’s long form vs. short form, game vs. relationship, or organic vs. structured, a player with a specific background tends to view other styles through a biased lens. A show that doesn’t fit in that player’s narrow idea of “good improv” tends to be judged far more harshly than a show that does. Much the same way a person who grew up in Hong Kong might be less inclined to enjoy a meal prepared in America, because the flavors and preparation are geared toward different palates.
Becoming an Improv Foodie
I want everyone to go out and sample every type of improv with an open mind. Consider it like being adventurous with food. If you’ve grown up with classic American cuisine, you wouldn’t be afraid to go sample some rustic Italian, wholesome German, or traditional Japanese, would you?