They say you haven't really learned a language until you stop translating it and just start thinking in it. Improv is kind of like that. I know, we're not supposed to think. I don't mean we should think about the improv. That would be like translating.
I guess what I mean is, we need to learn to start thinking as our characters instead of trying to say what our character would say. I had a really interesting moment the other day. Not so much that the scene (a group game, actually) was awesome (it was way fun), but thinking about it later, I noticed something about how it played in my head.
I hate trying to describe scenes because they're just never fun if you weren't there, but it's the only way I can think of to explain what went on in my mind.
We started out sort of vaguely as a jug band tuning up, pouring water out of our bottles or jugs to get the right sound. Then someone heightened by making us a military force who could explode people's hearts by hitting the right note. We decided we'd just practice the bowel loosening note instead.
Now, I wasn't thinking "How would I react if this were true?" or "What would I say in this situation?" But I was thinking.
I was thinking "Wait, if we play that note, all our hearts will explode/bowels will loosen! Oh, ok, they must have ear plugs to prevent that. Shit! I don't have ear plugs! I'm screwed!"
I wasn't thinking "If that, then what?" I wasn't translating the reality of the scene. I was part of the reality of the scene, as silly as it was. I didn't stop to think "Ok, so if there were a military jug band strike force who could make people shit themselves with just the right note..." For just a few moments, I was worried that they would blow that note and I didn't have my earplugs.