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Car. Bomb. How Do You Explode?

Readers of my first book (and some lucky students) will have heard me say this, but it's true nonetheless: Every time you start your car, it explodes.

That's what an internal combustion engine does. It creates thousands of small, controlled explosions every minute. It applies a spark to gasoline, and that's what makes the pistons go up and down. And that's what makes the wheels go.

You go to the store, drive on the highway, take a road trip with friends. All of it is made possible by sparks that make gasoline go boom!

There's another way to make things explode. Bombs do it. They can level a house, blow up a building and destroy a town.

Cars and bombs. Two different ways to harness energy. One constructive. One destructive. As an improviser, which one are you? Do all your ideas and impulses and feelings go up in a big bang? Or do you use internal combustion? Do you keep the explosions small and controlled, allowing them to propel you confidently through an entire scene? An entire show? Do you favor volatility or intensity?

The thing with bombs is, they expend all their energy at once, and then they're gone. The thing with cars is, they are easily refueled and can go for miles and miles. Sometimes they can go very fast. Sometimes, they can cruise.

A good improv show propels itself. The actors harness their powers and use them to drive the event. You can learn to keep your explosions under the hood. That's kind of what I (and a number of good instructors) teach. It makes for consistently great entertainment. And if you toss in a few small bombs every now and then, so much the better!

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