Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Zen and the art of improv
Alan Watts poses a problem: A man has a fight with a bear. The bear is a mind reader. The man can only win if he does something absolutely spontaneous. It's the same thing with a zen master. He can see through anything phony. He sees through you. The more you try to be natural and spontaneous, the phonier you get. The game is rigged; you can't win. When you finally get it, the mind gives up. Badabing. You're enlightened. Then the zen master hits you with a stick and makes you sweep up.
Improv uses the same trick. It's engineered spontaneity designed to trick the bear of self-consciousness.
The cats and kittens of Lazy Fairy — Sarasota's latest upstart improv troupe — know this trick very well. (Christine Alexander, Tim Beasley, Catey Brannan, Chris Friday, Angel Parker and Zan with no last name.) Faster than you can say "Grizzly Man," they've got you laughing your ass off — as happened to me at their debut peformance at the Players. Describing what they do would be about as funny as dissecting Tinkerbell, so I threw some zen philosophy at you instead. Trust me: they're funny, even enlightening.
Christ. Here comes the bear again.
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