Today I wanted to write about discovering new ideas within improv and share my ridiculous, yet fun, strategy to overcoming the norm. But before we get there, allow me to first digress...
I'd say a lot of our inspiration within scenes is a direct result of what we've recently been exposed to, whether from conversations, books we've read, or television. I can't tell you how many scenes I've been in where we started off doing something outdoorsy and all of the sudden we realized that we're survivors of a plane crash, completely Lost on an island, and a black smoke monster comes in and kills all of us. Okay, that's not true...but you should get into Lost. It's a great show!
Through the years, I've seen my fair share of “traditional scenes.” You know, the ones about breakups, proposals, and firings; with the space work being limited to smoking, drinking, and eating. My guess is that this may be the result of all of us watching an exorbitant amount of Desperate Housewives, listening to too much Dr. Laura Schlessinger, and reading far too many US Weekly magazines. And whilst these scenes are entertaining, when done correctly, I'd argue that they can tend to be overdone. As an audience member, the last thing you want to see is a 30 minute show with 5 breakup scenes.
So what's my simple strategy for getting out of this routine and enlarging your scenic horizons?
Simple. Start watching and reading content that's entirely different from what you normally indulge yourself with. Doing so will make you more comfortable with other genres, eras, and styles. Go watch cartoons. Read fantasy books. Play sci-fi video games. It’s goofy, but I really believe this will start expanding your repertoire of characters and, in turn, your scenes will become more diverse. Scenes should still remain grounded and relatable, but every once in a while it's fun to see a scene with a couple of raccoon pirates going on mutiny because they’re forbidden to drink mead with the human pirates.
Why not give it a try? Now go do yourself a favor. Download some Darkwing Duck, purchase the Inheritance Trilogy, and rent Mass Effect 2. It’ll easily become the best day of your life.