We the improvisors
Lucy Collins | Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Amongst the plethora of possible plans for the upcoming years is the idea of law school. Talk to my mother, however, and she would say I am woefully unprepared for another round of admissions for a competitive school. How so, you ask? Because instead of using my free time to start a non-profit or create a small business, I slowly but surely became entrenched in the most anti-establishment activity there is — improvisational comedy. Or so she says! And to prove her wrong, without further ado, here is the Bill of Rights applied to the ins-and-outs of improv!
1. Freedom of Religion, Speech and the Press
This one should be pretty self-explanatory. Improv, is by definition, freedom. Freedom to say whatever you can think of in the half-second you have to respond, whether it be ridiculous, nonsensical or even a bit offensive. Because of the immediacy of the art form, we stand by the rule “don’t be afraid to f*** up!”. You have the ability to try something out, and if there are no laughs, the moment ends and you try something new.
2. Right to Bear Arms
This law certainly implies to improv, but with slightly less implications in the real world. After all, the worst thing that can happen when you pull an invisible gun is that your partner mistakes it for a cell-phone, resulting in confusion for everyone involved.
3. Housing of Soldiers
Hear me out — no one in America can be compelled to house soldiers, and no one on my improv team is going to be able to afford housing after college because we are all hopeless! Ergo, if anyone from your alma mater’s improv team asks to “crash on your couch,” lock your doors because they don’t intend to leave (unless it’s me — please shelter me).
4. Protection from Unreasonable Search and Seizures
The number one rule of improve is “yes, and…” meaning the only way an improvised scene will work is if you can trust that your partner will take what you say (“we’re in a doctors office”) and add to it (“yes, and look — all of the instruments are actually made of cheese!). You run with even the craziest of ideas, instead of halting a scene and seizing it of its momentum. An unwarranted change of direction hurts everyone involved, but “yes, and…” opens the door to more trust, listening and teamwork.
5/6/7/8. Rights of the Accused
What happens in an improv show STAYS in the improve show. The art relies on the improvisers truly believing that what they create is fleeting — and cannot therefore be compelled to witness against themselves (i.e. if you ask me if that was me pretending to be a farting whale on stage last week, I WILL plead the fifth). In regards to cruel and unusual punishment — try asking what an improviser wants to do after college, and you’ll see us squirm.
9. Other Rights Kept by the People
The best part about my time on the Humor Artists has been the different people I’ve met. We all agree to subscribe to certain “laws of the land” (for instance, if a scene is struggling, say something high-brow, like “your MOM,” and it will gain immediate laughs), and yet outside of these rules, we maintain our individuality. My teammates are from every college, freshman through grad-students, and choose to pursue passions as wide and diverse as you can imagine. You reserve the right to be whomever you want, off and on the stage.
10. Undelegated Powers Kept by the States and the People
Power to the people, man. We have leadership roles within the team for organizational purposes, but no one gets more stage time than anyone else. No one is the “main” character in a scene, so everyone has a chance to create. Kind of the acting equivalent to participation-trophies, I guess. But to be clear, any law school admissions guides who are reading — this doesn’t apply to me. I single-handedly carry my team on my back.
Look — I know much of this seems like a stretch, and that’s because it is. I realized about halfway through that it actually is quite hard to apply what I know from comedy to the fundamental tenants of our American society. Hence why I decided to cheat and clump a bunch of amendments together.
I suppose Mom’s right — I need some serious time to prep for those interviews. That’s what a gap year is for, anyways. Or hey, maybe I’ll just improvise.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.