Chad has been performing and learning improv for a little over a year now. He is an “older” improvisor in that most improvisors start in their 20’s or earlier, and he’s in his 40’s. It’s never too late to start learning improv, but it’s more difficult the older you are. You’ve learned to say “no” to things, to be more in control, to be more pessimistic. Life wears you down, or builds up shields.
Chad used to be a Police Officer. He’s the kind of guy you want to be a cop. He’s level headed, firm but fair, and smart.
This is a habit he noticed in his own performance. Being “Clipboard Chad.” Entering a scene as an inspector, or a cop, or a guy with a clipboard checking off a list.
This character can be useful in that they’ll deliver exposition, or create conflict. But, often, they aren’t connecting with their fellow performers on any emotional or really listening level. Sometimes they’ll even have an almost literal barrier between them (ie. a clipboard).
Chad’s not the only one to have done this simple protective crutch. I’ve seen almost every improviser I’ve met be this character. Myself included.
Why? It’s a security thing. It’s a way of keeping yourself safe. Walled off, but safe. And a way of keeping things in control. You have a list. You have a mission and you can direct the scene however you want it to go. So, you’re safe, but you’re also not collaborating.