The advantage in doing some research into applied improv is that I’m reading a lot – especially books that have sat on my bookshelf, largely unread for a long time. The disadvantage is that i get distracted easily and end up writing blog posts!
In The Improv Handbook by Tom Salinsky and Deborah Frances-White, subtitled The ultimate guide to improvising in comedy, theatre, and beyond (no shrinking violets here) I was struck by a comment on turn taking.
Children approach playing games, or doing exercises or being given the chance to try something new, very differently from adults. Children approach these situations with one mission, and that mission is to have lots of turns. They sometimes actually rate their success that way, saying something like “I had four turns and Charlie only had three – I win!”
Adults are very different. We want to sit back, assess – from our seats! – whether we’d be any good at the task in question. If we think we’d be successful at it, then and only then will we want a turn. If we think it is something we would not be good at, we usually prefer to have no turn at all.
Children want lots of turns, but adults just want one perfect turn.
This is worth remembering. I don’t have any answers to this dilemma. It’s another interesting question to emerge from researching applied improv.