Remember when I used to write about the connection between parenting and improv?
I realized today that Chandler is better at pantomime than most of the improvisers that I perform with. No offense to any fellow improvisers that might be reading this, but it’s true.
Today Chandler and I were playing and he needed some tools to fix his robot. In an improv scene the improviser would probably have pulled those tools out of thin air. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves about improv; improvisers don’t always take the time to do good pantomime or build their environment. So a set of tools might just happen to be floating right next to the improviser, or maybe they were in his hand all along even though they weren’t.
But not with Chandler. As I watched him turn around, pick the spot where he decided they were stored, and then carefully pick out each tool, I couldn’t help but laugh. The kid’s a natural! Granted, once the tools were in his hand, his object work was a little sloppy. But he does a great job creating his environment and knowing that every imagined object has to come from somewhere.
I think he does a better job than most improvisers because unlike an improviser, when he’s acting out a scene he’s not worried about getting a laugh. Improvisers often start to panic if the laughs aren’t constantly flowing, and that causes them to rush through actions that they don’t think will directly get laughs. Chandler, on the other hand, is just playing. He’s acting out very specific and elaborate scenes and taking his time not to miss a single detail.
I might be able to make some money on the side by holding an improv workshop where people just watch us play Ninja Turtles.
That question from earlier made me think of this.
If one of our boys comes to me on the verge of tears and says, “I bonked my elbow!” I check out the injury and say something like, “Well, it seems okay, so… oh, wait a minute. Okay, I see. Yeah, this is going to have to come off.” Then, I pretend to try and pull their arm off.
I put a lot of effort into it, grunting and gritting my teeth, sometimes dangling them upside down. Then, I look for the “release switch,” which invariably resides under the armpit. When they’re squealing with laughter, I stop and say, “Well, I can’t get it to come off. Think you’ll be okay?” They always say yes.
I have yet to try this tactic on a serious injury.
- Wyatt: Let's pretend we're bad guys, but we do nice things for people in a nice way.
- Me: That sounds like we'd be good guys, then.
- Wyatt: But, we're bad guys.
- Me: So, we're bad bad guys?
- Wyatt: Yeah.
The other day, Wyatt and I were playing with toy cars, pretending to race each other. I said, “Uh-oh, I’m going to pass you.”
He said, “Then, I shoot fire at you and you drive off the cliff.”
And I said…