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Why (Longform) Improv Is Sports, with Ben Schwartz
EPISODE 14: And why it may also be NBA Top Shot, unfortunately.
Late last month, I came across one of those studies that confirms that everything you felt about a thing was true, but also worse.
A research organization called DappGambl, which specializes in crypto, scanned a data set of 73,257 NFT collections and found that 95.3% of them had a market cap of… nothing.
Which made me think of the biggest NFT phenomenon in sports: NBA Top Shot.
Which then made me think of actor/writer/longform-improviser Ben Schwartz.
Because not only is NBA Top Shot something that Jean-Ralphio — Ben’s Parks and Rec character — would have been really into (and, possibly, invented).
NBA Top Shot is something that Ben Schwartz was really into. In real life.
Which is how I got to know Ben, over the Internet, in Feb. 2021, in the first place.
Anyway: this episode isn’t really about NBA Top Shot. (It is partly about NBA Top Shot.) This episode is, more than anything, a flimsy excuse for me to find out more about what I genuinely consider Ben’s superpower: longform improv comedy.
Admittedly, I don’t know if you know what longform improv even is. (We’ll explain it.) But it’s an art form that I’ve quietly, and creepily, loved watching Ben master — from afar, as a fan — for more than a decade now.
And I believe that it is more like sports than anything else in entertainment.
So thanks to Ben for letting me ask all my questions about his strange craft, in my sadly transparent personal attempt to get better at this job. And also, at the very end, for improvising a new PTFO theme song.
P.S. Even bigger thanks to the great Amir Blumenfeld for letting us invade his privacy.