The word “improv” likely elicits thoughts of on-the-fly comedy. “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” introduced an entire generation to the kind of laughs improvisational comedy can bring to the table. Comedy that had not yet been planned or scripted created a kind of humour that had not yet been experienced by mainstream television viewers. The success of this comedy style was undeniable—”Whose Line Is It Anyway?” has been running since 1998.
Dispel with the notion that a fourth-wall breaking wink is what improv connoisseurs would consider “genuine comedy.” It’s not.
“But there is more to improv than just comedy,” says Diana Devlin, communications coordinator for The Improv Embassy, “it can tell a story, be emotional, impactful.” Dispel with the notion that a fourth-wall breaking wink is what improv connoisseurs would consider “genuine comedy.” It’s not. The best reactions, Devlin explains, come from emotions found within the context of the performance—after all, it is a lot easier to make someone laugh than it is to make someone cry. Drawing upon character, setting and plot to evoke a range of emotions in the audience is at the heart of improvisational theatre.
And improv isn’t just for theatre geeks. Like Toastmasters, for instance, improv can help bring out the inner voice of any shy person. “You become very close with the people you do improv with. Instructors and students are incredibly supportive,” says Devlin who has been taking courses with The Improv Embassy since last year. “You get to create a hivemind with people you trust onstage. If there’s a silence in a scene, you can depend on your partners to either fill it, or give it meaning.”
The experienced coordinators of The Improv Embassy are open to expanding to more genres, like sketch comedy, standup, and comedic monologues. Devlin cites CBC’s Baroness Von Sketch, featuring an all-female comedy crew, as a successful example of new and successful Canadian sketch comedy.
The improv classes themselves are set up like university courses. “Improv,” Devlin explains, “like any discipline, needs solid foundations.”
The open house is for beginners and experts alike. “Everyone’s welcome,” says Devlin. “We’ve got a big tent.”
If you’ve ever been interested in the art of improvisation, visit The Improv Embassy’s open house at 176 Rideau St, Unit 202, September 10th from 10AM to 2PM.