So I’m leaving Portland soon for 14 weeks of field research. I’m studying the wild long form improviser in its native habitat, an urban center. I picked up my Portland State University business cards which read
I giggled a bit picturing myself in a pith helmet in Rochester finding an interpreter who speaks Rochenese. Getting set up in a shack outside of town like Bronislaw Malinowski in the Trobriand Islands. I’m doing a more modern equivalent. I’m staying at my parents’ rural homestead on the outskirts of Rochester, a little hamlet called Webster in the lovely state of New York. Hello Lake Ontario, hello trips to Toronto.
It occurred to me that business cards are the key to someone’s legitimacy (or utter bullshit if you’re a con man, and I’m not 100% sure which one I am). It also struck me that I’ve got a responsibility now to do this study well and deliver a reasonably good thesis. Thanks to a snowball sampling of American improvisers, I’ve collected a good chunk of ethnographic data on the experience of being an improviser, as well as a good demographic picture from an online survey I put up a couple of months ago.
This project is so damn cool. It’s impossible to convey in a few sentences what I’ve been learning, other than a lot about the social and cultural side of improv. Sadly, I feel it has detached me from the artistic side a bit, but not enough to ruin the fun onstage. I am still bringing that my friends *snap*.