Are there different techniques for improvisational comedy?For example, do some people approach improv from a character standpoint, whereas you might from a storytelling standpoint?With improv, when I get with the guys I find we start right where we left off. If you’re working with a new group of improvisational comedians, do you have to acclimate yourself to them beforehand? The thing is that there’s a familiarity with other people that you work with all of the time where, like I said, you just pick up right where you left off.And with new people, you kind of have to feel them out a little bit – but it’s not that wild of a ride.In addition to discussing how he got started in stand-up and improv alike, Proops talked about the techniques that brought him success in both areas, and examined the past, present and future of the field in which he’s become not just an elder statesman, but an expert. Oh yeah, there was decidedly a formal [training], doing open mics the old fashioned way, you know – a million shows of stand-up.I was in a comedy group, too, called Fault Lines, and we were a group in San Francisco when we were in college.Well, formal, I have an act, a written act, but I improvise within it, and without it.So when I do improv with all of the groups that I play with, I just wing it.
And perhaps most miraculously, he’s managed to move from one project to the next, for more than three decades, without sacrificing any of his personality, much less his ’50s hipster personal style.
It’s pure fortuitousness that it was us; I don’t think we’re better than any other improvisers in the world.
I don’t even think I’m the best improviser in my group. I mean, I think Mike Mc Shane and Jim Sweeney, and guys like Ryan Stiles are just really a troupe of improvisers; I don’t consider myself a superb improviser. How formalized would you say your comedy is, either in preparation or execution?
We tend to play, in the groups I’m in, in short-form, but I can certainly do long-form, meaning like they’ll do a musical or Shakespeare or something really long.
And some of the more [long-form] stuff doesn’t turn me on as far as improv goes, so that’s why I think that the podcast is the most fulfilling, because it’s a combination of stand-up and improv.