Reinforcements can be both positive and negative. Like turning shark week on in a crowded bar, while a few people may clap, you don't know whether their reaction is positive or negative. What I can tell you is that many people clap at the sight of bad improv, thereby reinforcing bad habits. And much like nuns who've played in the rain too long, we don't want to reinforce bad habits. Now, sad rabbits? That I would like to explore, but maybe at a later date.
We take each laugh in the crowd for granted, as a "Oh ho ho, I've done good kid. Kick a nickel in a top hat and scram! Ya hear?" But what if we were doing bad improv, and they were clapping to get us out of the scene, like an audience edit. While as organic as a scene could be, I've been both in the audience and on stage for air sucking silence that zip zop zaps me to my core. We all have (where my improvisers at??) Anyway, all I'm saying is we need to fine tune the audience.
Tuning the audience is a great way to get on board with whatever the entertainers want you to be on board with. Like a boat captain who has to make a tight schedule, we really need you on board here, ok? It'll help for ease of understanding, ease of laughter, and trust. Trust between the audience and improviser, saying "Hey buddy, it's ok. I've got you. I'm here for you. Also send me money for this because I'm not getting paid." I mean, that's what I hear at least.
Like a long waged debate between men's undergarment preferences, I'll be brief here. What we need to do is see more positive reinforcement (the hooting and hollering and guffawing) for the good stuff and only the good stuff. That way I'd know if what I'm doing is worth it. Of course, we could perform for absolutely no one. We don't technically need an audience, except for that delusion that most improvisers have: we think that because we are improvising, people want to see it. So I guess that's it. I can shut up. We've solved it. I'll keep doing what I do. Sorry for the weird post, but it's been a weird Francis Ford Coppola days.
I'm playing Starveling in a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream this weekend. Come to the show and explain to me what each person is saying. I haven't the slightest clue, and we are almost done rehearsals. Halp!!!