Tahlequah Daily Press

November 1, 2013

Improv comedy

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Improvisational comedy, as practiced by the Tahlequah act Red Letters and Northeastern State University’s Homemade Fireworks, is an entertainment genre using no scripts, sets or costumes.

Improv, in its comedic and non-comedic forms, endures being the butt of some entertainment industry jokes, but improvisational ability is respected. Comedy stars who claim they were no good at improv are making a confession of sorts, and many acting schools require some improv study.

Modern improv comedy is often divided into two separate styles. Longform improv performers may spin a full-length play or musical off the tops of their heads. The more common style is shortform, in which short scenes are guided by an idea, structure or audience suggestion. The popular attraction is the spontaneity and knowing the actors put together a show for one audience on one night.

Many standup comics consider improv an indispensable skill. Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Bill Murray, Steve Carell, Dan Aykroyd and Homer Simpson (Dan Castellaneta) all studied improv. They are also alumni of perhaps the most famous improv comedy troupe in the U.S., Chicago’s “Second City.”