Slapdash: S is for “Surprise”Posted: 13 May 2013
What follows is the first in a series of articles misleadingly titled: The A to Z of Slapdash:
1. S is for “Surprise”
In addition to the publicised events at this year’s Slapdash Festival, there will be a few surprises. This is a good thing, as improv is all about surprises. There are good surprises and bad surprises, of course, but the most memorable surprises are the ones that even the people doing the surprising weren’t expecting.
A clever improviser may surprise us with her uncanny skill of thinking up smart, on-the-nose things to say only fractions of a second before she says them, but it’s the improviser who is surprising herself, who is in the flow of the moment, who doesn’t know what she has said until she has said it, who not only surprises, but thrills and delights us.
I remember the first time I surprised myself while performing an improv exercise. I pointed at a clock and yelled “Telephone!”. I had no idea that I was about to yell “Telephone!”. My whole life I had become so accustomed to weighing each word before uttering it, and to giving the correct answer, that this entirely new experience caught me off guard. I became briefly disabled by a hysterical interlude. Even now, those genuine moments of spontaneity and self-surprise are rare and golden.
When was the last time you surprised yourself? Not when something merely turned out better than you anticipated it would, but when you stumbled unwittingly through an instantaneous mindgate of unprompted serendipity headlong into a treasure trove of the unanticipatable? You can’t make that happen. You have to allow it. Why not allow it to happen today?