I just launched this website as a way to supplement the resources I’ve been putting out there on the podcast I host – the Improv Comedy Connection. What a weird time to do that. People are on edge in a different kind of way. We awkwardly wave at each other from approximately 6 feet away when we’d normally shake hands. The streets are quiet. The grocery stores are weirdly busy, but also weirdly quiet. And we see each other less than we did just a few weeks earlier.
In the midst of that, there is an undeniable impact on creatives. Festivals are canceling. Shows are canceling. Theaters are shutting down. Heck, I heard that The Annoyance is locking some of their performers into the theater and keeping them from leaving! If you don’t know what I mean, look it up. It’s actually a pretty interesting response.
But there also is a rush to find ways to put improv online using Skype, Google Hangouts, Twitch, Zoom, and other technologies. I don’t know Eric Holmes, but he created OozeBear as one of those technologies at a really interesting time. And all of that is great, and I hope it helps improvisers stay connected and communities survive the time we’ll be at least 6 feet apart from each other.
But I also have a worry about it. That we’ll forget that improv is not just about creating. It’s not just about creating together. It’s about being really present with each other and connecting human to human — at least I think that’s the biggest thing about it. And you can get some of that from being online, but it can’t be the same. Because you’re on one side of the glass and they’re on the other. You can’t feel their energy the same way — at least not with the technology that’s available to us today. And being on the other side of the glass is not as risky or as vulnerable or as disclosing as being with each other inside a 6 foot radius. Person next to person. Creating. Being together. Supporting each other.
I guess what I’m saying is, don’t lose whatever edge you’ve honed in improv by ignoring the hazards of improvising in the two dimensional world online. And when things are back to normal, crave the interpersonal connections you missed maintaining social distance. Let’s be better when things get back to normal.