Richard Regan Paul is an actor and improviser based in Orlando, Florida, where he has performed and taught at SAK Comedy Lab, among other places, for over 15 years. He will be bringing his solo improv show to the inaugural 321 Improv Festival. In this spotlight interview, Paul talks about the intimacy-to-risk ratio of small-group improv, Sarah Connor's character arc, and the time he did a 40-minute set in the greeting card aisle of a Walgreens.
What’s your favorite thing about the improv scene in your city?
People are hungry to do improv! The ambition makes me feel young again!
How would you describe your approach to improv?
Experiencing what's outside of me, feeling through it, building from the inside out.
What do you think makes small group improv unique?
What seems to be common is the intimacy-to-risk ratio. The higher the intimacy a team experiences, the greater the risks they take together. The glue that keeps them going: forgiveness.
What’s your favorite memory from a trio, duo, or solo show?
Performing a solo show for the Tampa Improv Festival several years back. It was well received, and of course felt like far too short a time to improvise, even though it was a half-hour performance. Flow theory!
Where’s the most peculiar/unusual place you’ve ever performed?
In the greeting-card aisle of a Walgreens. A friend and I did 40 minutes of improv using Hallmark gift cards as inspirations for our scenes. (You should try it sometime.)
What do you typically do to get yourself ready for a show? Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I like to chat with people. Especially nice people. That gives me energy.
What sort of compliment do you like to get or give after a show?
If I get questions about my performance, especially how I did something, then that is the greatest compliment to me. To know that people are authentically engaged enough to talk shop with me is the best form of recognition.
Why is Terminator 2 the best Terminator movie?
Because Sarah Connor's inner crisis and outer crisis was the most concrete crucible out of all of the Terminator movies. Terminator was her origin story (as in meek & innocent Sarah Connor evolving into the Mother of the Resistance). Terminator 2 allowed us to truly feel the angst, trauma, aggression, struggle, and imposed mission Sarah experienced. Her burden was depicted with vulnerability. To see a major character face extreme adversity that would rob you of your own humanity, and still have the capacity to love.