podcasts

The joy of witnessing mistakes

I like watching improv. This blog wouldn’t exist if I didn’t.

One thing I love watching in improv, though, is mistakes. When experienced improvisers trip up, that is hilarious to me.

Does this make me a shitbag?

 

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Our Level 1 teacher told us:

Nobody comes to an improv show saying, ‘oh man, I hope they screw up.’ No! The audience wants you to do well. They’re rooting for you!

 

As he said this, I thought:

Oh. Really? I want them to screw up. That’s the best part. Obviously I am a terrible person and do not belong in the improv community.

 

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This past week, with the Sound of Music Live setting the internet on fire, one of my favorite podcasts (PCHH, or Pop Culture Happy Hour) discussed this apparently universal desire for screwups when watching live shows, which made me feel much better about being this way.

 

There’s a part of that desire to see something go “wrong” that’s not malicious, it’s just that you like it when people’s humanity is exposed a little bit. —Linda Holmes, 13:25

 

I hope, a little bit, that something unplanned happens [during the Sound of Music Live], but it’s not because I want bad things to happen to people, it’s not really schadenfreude, it’s just that… it’s just that you like it when those unplanned things that kind of make life bumpy and interesting happen. —Linda Holmes, 14:17

 

“…In these situations, you’re not looking for people crashing and burning—” (Stephen Thompson)

“—you’re looking for the stunning recovery.” (Trey Graham) (quote at 15:50; lead-in story begins 14:30)

 

I guess that’s why I love watching experienced improvisers screw up. When people at my level get flustered, it’s uncomfortable, but when experts mess up, that’s awesome, because they recover beautifully.