At a recent Round Robin, my sister said the strangest thing to me. I was very much taken aback. I believe her exact words were, "I want to go want extemp." I told her, quite honestly, that I had never heard someone say that before in my life. Startled and extremely intrigued, I followed her to postings and then to the extemp prep room so we could wait outside until someone walked out and then follow them. We did just that. As I was kneeling awkwardly on the floor of a very small room listening to a real live extemper speak about some event which is current, I thought about how never in my life had I gone to watch extemporaneous, or even accidentally seen someone practice at club. In fact, I didn't even know extemp existed before my first tournament. Now here I was watching one. Much to my surprise, I liked it. So I watched another one. It wasn't boring either. Weird. People don't typically watch extemp. Maybe if you do extemp, you'll watch so you can get better, but that's pretty much the only reason. I mean, look at me, it took me nearly three years to get around to it. For whatever reason, it seems like most people would rather watch Humorous Interps, duos, and novice impromptu prelim rounds than watch extemp. There are multiple reasons why I suspect this is the case: 1. Extempers make everybody else look bad. Now I consider myself a reasonably caught-up person, but man. I've heard tell of speeches given on entire countries that I've never heard of. What is that about? Extemp makes me feel like I live in a cave. Under a rock. In the Dark Ages. With a dinosaur. Who doesn't know anything either. 2. Extemp is not that funny. Fact: People like funny things. Other fact: Current events are not that funny. It's usually that sad stories that make it into the news, and even though extemp is not necessarily sad, it's almost guaranteed not to be funny. Sometimes it is, but still. Why risk it? We all watch HIs and duos which actually are very funny lots of the time. 3. You don't get to watch the prep time. The best part of watching someone give an impromptu is watching his face during prep time. You can see the wheels of his head turning. For two minutes, he's concentrated. Fully focused. Nothing is going to distract him. Then the timer beeps, he lifts his head up and soon begins to speak. He tells of something marvelous in an impromptu speech that he came up with before your very eyes. Yes, while you were watching creepily, he was creating a masterpiece. They do not let you watch extempers scramble madly through giant boxes and write in itty-bitty handwriting on little cards. It's a bummer.
I'm not saying it's a good thing that no one wants to watch extemp. I'm just saying, it's what happens. Now you know why.
What about you? Do you avoid extemp at all costs, or are you brave and watch it all the time and think I'm crazy?