I had the joy and delight of being in Munich for the Impro EM Tournament of Improv Masters (I know: it sounds great. And it was).

I represented Ireland (that’s another story). And the cool thing was I had never met my team before, so we got to meet and play together upon arrival, quickly forming a bond over our shared homeland (?) and love of improv. We also got to meet a bunch of other delightful like minds from across our fair continent.

Three smiling improvisers stand in front of a banner that reads: Impro EM

Team Ireland from Impro EM (L-R): Kiva Murphy, Ryan Millar, Dan McCormack

The joys of Munich for improv

It was all in all a beautifully run festival (major shouts out to the organizing team). Great sold-out shows, hanging out with players from Austria, Turkey, Italy, Lichtenstein, Belgium (and my teammates from Ireland). I was working during most of the days, but still managed to teach a workshop on Dig Deep, Bring the Heat. This is one of my favorite improv workshops to teach, about how to source more creativity and sincereity and emotional depth.

I also got to do three extraordinarily fun shows. Look at how much fun we’re having!

a group of European improvisers pile together smiling for a photo op

 

Messing with the format

My favorite moments were the last show on the final night, when we were pitted against Belgium. But here’s the secret paradox: competitive improv doesn’t work when it’s competitive. It just feels a bit weird, for players and the audience.

Improv is a joyous spontaneous art form, and the spirit of competition should match that. And to be fair, it did in every instance when we took to the stage.

But especially on that final night, we were joyfully mischievous with our fellow players from Belgium, and the outstanding musical director Florian, giving the referee fits as she struggled (in a delightfully theatrical way) to contain the chaos that was bubbling at the surface and over it onstage. You can see the moment, captured beautifully by photographer Sara Kurig.

Joyous onstage chaos, teams be damned

That riotous moment (and indeed, moments) of onstage madness juxtaposed nicely with our final scene of the evening, when we played a collective scene. Rather than pile on with more chaos, this one started as a sound poem, before veering, rather unexpectedly, into a poignant salute to endings, death, and love. A fitting tribute and send off to a spectacular week.

And in the end, Belgium emerged triumphant, narrowly beating us out, and ultimately becoming the deserving champions of our week. They’re competing in the European finals from 14 – 18 May. I wish all the teams, referees, participants, and audience a wonderful week.

Damn, that was fun.

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