I like that it’s ephemeral. I like that once a show is over, it’s completely lost and you move on to the next one. I like that it doesn’t stick around and will never be seen again, and that even the greatest improv shows of all time are reduced to nothing but memories.
I often get the impression that people don’t like that. Everybody seems to want to create something that will last, or that will be seen by a larger audience than just the people there that night. People see the transience of improv as a deficiency that makes it inferior to sketches or videos. And that makes me sad, and a little defensive.
If you view an improv show as a THING that we MAKE, then yeah, it’s not very durable. But I’d rather view it as an EXPERIENCE that we HAVE. It’s an event. It’s not supposed to last; it’s supposed to be great while it’s happening, and then life goes on and you go do the next thing. It’s less like a TV show or movie, more like a concert or even a party.
That’s what makes it work for me. That’s where the energy and excitement come from. It’s less like a creation to be consumed, more like an event to be experienced.
This also implies disposability, in the best possible way. We don’t need our improv shows to linger, because a) we have faith that we can go do more; b) we would RATHER do more than relive the old ones; c) we’re being completely, boldly, shamelessly NOW. We’re choosing pop over timelessness, today over tomorrow. We’re capturing the zeitgeist, not speaking to future generations. We are, by design, creating something that ceases to matter once it’s over; I see that as a virtue.
I wouldn’t want a party to last forever. Not even the best party in the world. I’d want it to end, and then I’d want to go to another party the next day, and have fun all over again.