Photograph by Mike McFarland

Photograph by Mike McFarland

The Revengers create a comic book inspired by audience suggestions. It's as cool as it sounds. I hope you'll be able to see their show Saturday night at the California Comedy Festival!

We had a chance to ask Rob Long some questions about improv....

Q: When and where did you begin improvising? 

A: March, 1989, in Bakersfield, California.

Q: What troupes and individuals were your early passions and influences? 

A: When I started, ComedySportz and Whose Line Was It Anyway were everything I knew about improv, though I quickly learned about the Kentucky Fried Theatre, Viola Spolin, Keith Johnstone and Theater Sports.

Q: How did your troupe come together? 

A: Eric Dains said “I have an idea for a troupe name –The Revengers, but I don’t know what to do with it.” I responded, “I’ve been wanting to put together an improvised comic book. That name seems to fit.” From there, we looked around for who we knew that loved both comics and improv, and the four founders started workshopping what tools we’d need to put a comic book onstage.

Q: What do you love about your troupe? 

A: What DON’T I love about my troupe? I love the pure fun of doing it – it’s the show where I just cut loose and commit myself to having a blast. I love the scene painting we use. I love the way we’re doing more than a show – we’re building a universe, a Revengerverse. I love the discoveries we make, onstage and off. I love the stories we get to tell, onstage and off. I love the characters we get to keep revisiting and exploring.

Q: Improv can be exhilarating. What do you personally consider to be the most exciting moments in your work?

A: The moments of pure discovery, when we surprise both ourselves and the others onstage. The “Yes, And” of it all, when one of us throws something out and two or three others go, “Yeah, I can do something with that.” It takes us to magical places.

Q: How would you define what differentiates a successful live performance from a poor one? A: What can improvisers do from your point of view to improve their live act? Did you have fun doing it? Then it’s successful. To improve your act, figure out what you love about your show, what drives your passion, and chase that. Don’t forget to embrace the fear. When you have fun, when you dive headlong into the fear and don’t let it stop you from enjoying yourself, everything, including audience response, will be successful.

Q: What's the most important lesson you have learned as an improviser? 

A: I am enough. Discovery is more important than invention. Follow the fear. Be passionate about what you’re doing. Those are so intertwined that I’d have difficulty picking one. Probably that I am enough.