Since, like most of us, I have become an endless pit that streaming services shovel “content” into, I of course have seen all of Middleditch & Schwartz. Considering I am a recent graduate of the Upright Citizens Brigade’s Improv 101 class, the editorial staff thought I was most qualified (I agreed wholeheartedly) to review this particular piece.
According to my instructor, and the book they made us buy that I thumbed through, base reality is very important to establish in longform improv. For the uninitiated, base reality is how improv performers set the scene and create the illusion of a world without props or sets. Throughout the series, both of our players keep undercutting base reality, for example, by acknowledging they forgot names and the mother and father of the groom bit.
From my time studying at the Brigade, I have also gathered that stage presence is another key factor of successful improv. I couldn’t help but notice in the first of the three specials, Thomas Middleditch has his back to the audience when he is the ghost pastor, and my instructor would always correct us when we had our backs to the audience, so I think it’s wrong.
I thought maybe in the second installment I might see more adherence to the rules as they got into rhythm. I was disappointed to see more of the same selfish play as in the first. Who do these guys think they are? Don’t they care about the rules of the game?!
Honestly it makes me sad to see what “professional” improv has become. What happened to the days of the fundamentals? Where’s the three-man weave? Too much hot-dogging if you ask me.
But then…episode 3…Finally some yes/and. They’re going places now.
In all seriousness folks, if you aren’t familiar with longform improv, this is a really good primer for what makes improv magical. Even though this one has been committed to tape it still has the feel that anything can happen and that it’s all being done for the benefit of the people in the room.