‘Improv’ing the experience

Posted on March 24, 2009



I listened to an interview with Conan O’Brien, the legendary standup comedian and talk show host. He shared about his early days of comedy and his beginnings in ‘improv’. He said; “Someday, scientists are going to find a gene in our DNA that explains why we respond to something ‘in the moment’ so much differently then something rehearsed”. He continues about when the performer has no idea what’s happening and is just improvising, the audience is so much more engaged and captured in the moment. ‘What’s going to happen next?’ No one knows! In a rehearsed environment, the standards and expectations are just higher. It’s higher from the performer and higher from the audience. However, the ability to spontaneously create and improv is appreciated like no other. It’s a totally unique act of creation.

It makes me think of how do ‘improv’ in the church- especially on Sunday morning? Sometimes there is such a high value for excellence that there is no room for true improvisation. There is a script and a program and everyone (performers & the audience) knows exactly where it’s suppose to go. In any organized creative arts ministry, the ‘unknown’ is the first thing to go and is replaced by programmed minutes.

I respect a thoughtfully choreographed Sunday experience- I’ve been a career from it. A well crafted moment can truly change lives. But sometimes, I just miss the drama of improv. What if speakers, moderators, musicians, and artists, did not know what they were doing till the moment? Sure there would be some embarrassing minutes on stage, but there might also be beautiful unique moments that the audience can experience with you for the very first time. It can create a shared experience- and a shared experience brings people together.

Improv is not for everyone or every performer, but it’s certainly opens up the possibilities of the unknown.- and we all can use a few more surprises in our churches.

Posted in: Simplicity Sells