Addressing an Improv Weakness: Duo Improv

As an improvisor, there is a immense variety of shows that I perform in. Everything from the fast-and-funny short form of Rapid Fire Theatre‘s Theatresports to the 53-consecutive-hour long form marathons of Die Nasty: The Live Improvised Soap Opera.

Rapid Fire Theatre also produces CHiMPROV, which is a collection of mid-to-long form formats, developed and directed by members in the company. This wonderful playground show provides an opportunity to create and curate new formats, and fosters the incubation of those formats from idea-to-stage with the help of the extremely talented artistic staff of Amy, Joe and Ben.

In the summer of 2012, I took an opportunity to look at my body of work in improvisation and more specifically at CHiMPROV, I found something rather startling. I listed some of the shows that I have been, or currently am a part of:

  • The Imagineers (4) with Marc, Colin and Paul, with whom I was lucky enough to travel and perform at the Victoria Improv Festival.
  • Golden Diamonds (3) with Jessie and Joleen.
  • Off-Book: The Improvised Musical (5+)
  • JTS Brown (5+) brought back from the amazing Craig Cachowski, guest instructor at the 2012 Vancouver International Improv Festival.
  • Dungeons and Dragons (5+)
  • Cunning Linguists (2) with Amy. This is a rather structured debate style show.

With the exception of the structured debate-style show Cunning Linguists, I had been creating very little duo improv.

While I had been performing many corporate events as a duo, along side Donovan, and Atomic Improv, I wasn’t creating new duo shows. I was not working the craft of the improv pair to the fullest.

I took it upon myself to change that. That was all the motivation I needed, and I was lucky enough to find someone in a similar boat with Josephine.


Photos from Mat Simpson

We created Shot in the Dark, which explores the depth of a single moment by exploring the context of that moment in the associated characters lives. It also has a beautiful metaphorical tie in to Starbucks, which is also where we derive our suggestion from, as you can see in this performance:

Early this year, I was given an opportunity to create a show with Joe to be the opening act, at the Roxy Theatre, for Get Real, with Chris and Toby.

We created Six Degrees of Science, a show that perfectly intertwines our collective love of science and the physical world with improvisation and the imaginary world.

6Degrees

Now, with Shot in the Dark, and Six Degrees of Science… I am happily working on my duo work. Exploring the bounds of the improv duo. The benefits and challenges, as well as the beautiful simplicity.

I now better understand the enjoyment shared by some of my favourite improvisational duos, like CRUMBS, and Hip.Bang!

All it took was spending time thinking about what was missing, and then making an effort to address it. #lifelessons