The Best Improvised Story in the WorldPosted: 15 November 2012
I did it, it’s already been done. Never to be beaten, and I was twelve-years old.
When I starting learning how to improvise I was expecting a certain experience and it has taken me a while to work out why it was missing. I told a lot of stories when I was a kid, although I didn’t really think of it as telling stories, more as playing. When I started improvising I wanted to do long-form, I wanted to have fun telling stories. But it all seemed kind of complicated and much more work than it needed to be.
It was all a lot more simple on that fateful day when I created the most touching and heroic improvised story ever, and all it took was a playmobil castle, GI Joe figures and Monster in My Pocket toys.
I had a playmobil castle and GI Joe figures were a pretty good size to live in it. The GI Joes were a force of heroic soldiers, fighting against the evil cobra. So they were a bunch of unique looking mercenaries with guns and backpacks and medikits. I named them after kids at school, one of them represented me and they just played around in the castle, defending it from Monsters in My Pocket. The monsters were good because they were colourful and had loads of different monsters but were much smaller than the GI Joes, so they made good critters lurking in the dark woods outside the castle.
One of the kids at school, called Lewis, was always messing about and mouthing off teachers, so I named the Red Dog figure after him. Red Dog was a rebellious character according to his packaging.
Red Dog/Lewis liked to jump around in the castle and was constantly falling down the stairs and breaking them off. Until one day everyone else got so annoyed with his ‘accidents’ that they threw him out of the Castle, and he was out alone in the dark woods. There the monsters surrounded him, and were going to pull him apart, but he made a deal with them. He was upset and still rebellious so he agreed to let the monsters into the secret passage when everyone was sleeping that night, and the deal was struck.
The monsters crept in and tied everyone up in the courtyard, gloating over them. Then Lewis realised what an idiot he had been and released his friends. They fought off the monsters, and then celebrated with each other. If I remember correctly the whole episode ended with Lewis jumping for joy, falling down and breaking the stairs, prompting everyone else to shout “Lewis!” in unision. Roll credits.
Thanks, I appreciate the compliment.
The above story wasn’t planned at all, it just came out of my saturday-morning-cartoon brain. People have identifiable traits, they act on those traits and then consequences occur due to those actions. I could pick apart the whole thing and make points about endowment and yes anding, but I don’t think that’s what was missing from my improv.
I used to have awesome adventures in that castle, with those characters. I can’t even remember most of them, but I remember indelibly the fun I had. If you sat me down with a playmobil castle and some GI Joe figures I know I would be hypnotised by a wave of nostalgia.
That’s what I was hoping to find in improv. I wanted to have adventures, I wanted to pretend. I didn’t want to think and create and perform. To me those are the flash, the things that sit on top of the fundamental core of improv and what allow you to confidently charge people money to watch you play.
There are countless children right now creating effortlessly joyous stories by noodling around with their toy cupboard. So much more fun than the hard work I was doing in my narrative improv before.
Which is why I am happy that I am finding a way to that kind of improv in this project with Michael.
Now if you will excuse me, I think I need to go and find a GI Joe figure to call Michael.