Unrepeatable Improv Party

Here’s a lovely post by Hal Phillips about improv as an experience, rather than a thing. This idea is absolutely fundamental to the Luke & Michael creative philosophy. I particularly like his analogy that improv is more like a party than a TV show.

It puts me in mind of the following anecdote:

Several years ago my office had a Christmas lunch. We ate turkey and pulled crackers and drank wine around a big table at the back of a pub. After the meal, several of us hung around in the pub for a few more drinks. At some point in the early evening, someone suggested that we move to a different pub on the high street. This we did, and shared more laughs, drinks and stories. Later on that night, as the pub got too crowded, we were on the move again, and somehow ended up at The Gloucester Arms, a quiet and unglamorous pub that caters mainly for elderly locals, on a side street in Kentish Town. We got stuck into the pub’s jukebox and the night kicked off. We ordered whiskies, we sang, we danced and we flirted until very late indeed. It had turned out to be one of those epic parties, which those of us who were there will forever remember fondly.

The following year, in the weeks leading up to the office Christmas party, there was a palpable buzz of excitement. Whatever other plans are made, we told ourselves, we must end up at The Gloucester Arms. Those who hadn’t made it last year, and newcomers to the company, were promised the night of their lives. Such was the anticipation for the wild times we were sure to enjoy at The Gloucester Arms, that we spoke of little else over lunch, and made our way over there rather earlier in the evening than we had the previous year. But to our surprise, we found that it was just an ordinary pub. The regulars were surprised to see us burst in on their quiet drinking session. We had a quick pint, felt foolish and went home early.

The Christmas after that, we went to The Gloucester Arms a third time, but with an unenthusiastic sense of duty to what had now become a tradition.

We had mistaken the thing for the experience. Our joyous time that first year had nothing to do with The Gloucester Arms, but in a mysterious alchemy of good company, good drink, and luck. In seeking to replicate that experience, we had chosen the most obvious thing to revisit: the venue. But it had been our spontaneity that had led us there originally.


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