I went to a clown show last night in Brooklyn. It was an end-of-class show for an Intro to Clowning class. It was sweet and fun.
So much of my experience is filtered through my time as an improviser. A brand new crop of students putting on a comedy show in a black box theater. I have witnessed this countless times in an improv context. There's major overlap in the similarities to what I saw last night.
What made the clown show so watchable, when a similar Improv 101 type class show, not so much?
I know this comes off as me taking a cheap shot at improv. I'm willing to bet anyone who has had their fair share of experience in the improv zone, knows what I'm talking about. Improv 101 class shows are not hysterically funny for their intended reasons. It's a recital commemorating the student's introduction to the basics.
I'm tired. I'm rambling. I waited till the last minutes of the day to write. So I'll punch this out and be done:
The unexpected delight I've witnessed at these intro to clown class shows is the high level of agreement and cooperation on display. That type of play is rarely on display for an improv 101 show.
The potential for dissonance amongst the performers is dramatically reduced in comparison to an improv 101 show. The clown class is trained to engage with and feed off of the audience's energy. They're primed to create a communal enjoyment of the show. I'm not watching a self-conscious duo slowly die as they disagree and overthink. I saw performers patiently make connection.