Do the improv you love to do
Theres no right or wrong in improv, so go and have fun
I watch every improv show I can. I may or may not like particular sets, but I always enjoy learning something out of them. There was one set that I did not like so much. Yet, afterwards I talked to other people — they thought it was a mindblowing experience. That’s why improv is great.
Improv is an art, not science. No matter how many theories you put in, all the structure and the scientific jargons like heightening, blocking, waffling, mapping, foil… It is still art. Improv has no one way of doing it right. (As a scientist, it does bug me a bit that there is no ground truth. But I have conceded that improv is an art, and that’s cool.) You are free to improvise whatever show you like, down to the atoms of a scene — the dialogue.
Even Yes And is not true. Jo! You can block. It will make it harder for you, it will make it less enjoyable for other players to play with you. But there is no law saying you have to stick to Yes And (we all did and we had fun).
Improv is stressful to players who punish themselves to find “what is the right choice”. Ironically this doesn’t happen to beginners but it happens after you get better at improv, when you get serious and care a little too much about your scene. You badly want every scene to be good that you lose the joy of playing the scene. True, there are choices that are “better” than others, but is one choice more “correct” than another? Craig Uhlir says, you are doing a scene that has never been done before, there is no right or wrong. The right scene is the next scene.
Thus never be afraid to make a choice. Did your partner initiate a scene on a ship and your instinct was to eat a pineapple? Do that if that makes you happy. You’re not obliged to take “textbook” choice if that doesn’t make you happy. You can never break a scene if the players are happy. Nobody watches a show and think, “Gee, I wish those players stop having fun and get back to fix the scene”. Experience does help to know which choices lead to more fun. But which choice, good or bad, is not as important as making any choice at all. There is nothing to fear but the fear of making a choice itself.
Where does this lead — oh yeah, your show. Do the show that makes you happy. At some point when we become regular performers, our judgement gets affected by the audience and what they want. You seek approval in the form of instant laughs. That’s when you start struggling to find what’s “right” — even though people have different tastes. Unless that’s your profession, your goal is for YOU to have fun. 99% of the time, what is fun for you aligns with what’s right for the audience. But don’t worry about the latter. What makes you happy is why you are doing improv.