I “won” Maestro tonight. I don’t care about winning. I care that, after stepping off a plane three hours before, I did strong, solid improv. I care that when I was onstage I did good work.
People shit on short form a lot. It’s seen as the less cool half of improv (long form being considered the real “art”).
I’ve been one of those pompous improvisers. But tonight I recognized just how wonderful gamey improv can be. For a lot of reasons:
Maestro, and shows like it, are to improv what the poetry slam is to poetry readings. Adding structure and theatricality gives the audience instant access. They get it. They’re immediately engaged. They give a shit.
Plus, as an improviser, games provide variety. Tonight I played a wannabe pirate, a possessed grocery store manager, a couple of mobsters, and a space adventurer. My muscles were adequately flexed.
So while, as an artist, games eventually seem limiting, and yes, we want to remove all rules and format so we can create anything we want … let’s not think that means we need to shit on short form.
Short form provides things long form cannot. And it’s a fantastic way for an improviser to “work out” all of our improv muscles at a fast pace. And maybe more than anything short form forces us to connect with the audience.
When I see players “do poorly” in Maestro it’s often because they’ve forgotten to put on a show. We are there to put on a fucking show. Dance, monkeys, dance.
Make bold choices. Be loud. Make shit up. Grin and wink and heighten. Be ironic. Be naughty. Be LOUD. Move around the stage. Get into the spirt if the game.
But mostly, be loud.