What does it take to be on the best improv team in the world?
Last September, I created the French Improv Team "Zut Alors!" by picking people that had been trained through the different classes and levels of the Zmack Improv Training Center here in Shanghai, China. Some had followed the English classes, other the two or three French classes I had taught, some both. I had known them to be reliable, humble, generous, helpful and overall a lot of FUN.
Other people had asked me to be on the team. I didn't know them. They might have been great improvisers, but I was not sure it would be as much FUN. I followed David Pasquesi's advice by choosing who I wanted to be onstage with.
They are not perfect, and they will certainly improve their improv chops even more with time and experience. But they are FUN. We laugh so much at practices, at get-togethers, or even on the subway ride home after practice. Many a session have been spent crying out of laughter.
There has never been a moment when I thought things like, "Oh God, here that guy's idea again," or, "Thank God this one's absent this week, practice feels much better." We genuinely miss each other's energies when our busy schedules get in the way of our weekly rehearsal.
We have done 5 shows so far. The 4th one was the less FUN. We stressed too much and forgot to PLAY with one another onstage. We were stiff, slow in our decisions, and kept "watching the show" instead of "being the show." Our last presentation was much better, as we connected with our silly sides again.
We still need to learn a lot to be the awesome team we have in mind. We do openly, politely, respectfully criticise each other to improve. When we stink, we say we stink. When we feel good, we laugh. And it sure is a lot of FUN with these amazing people to learn how to be the best improv team ever.
(From left to right: Maeva, Arnaud, Marc, Julien [me], Virginie, Charles, Siegfried)