George Francois was one of the best pianists at Sunday Night Improv, and he and I worked together for years. I first met him at an audition we were holding for piano players; he was one of three who tried out for the jam. Although he had done jazz improvisations, he had never done a comedy improv show but seemed unconcerned. When he played, I saw why. It was magic. He brought a skill and passion to the playing that moved me, and which led my father – who attended almost every one of our weekly shows during the last decade of his life – to assert that "George is terrific! The best you ever had." He – and most audience members who heard him – were immediately blown away by the ten-minute mini-concert George would offer before the show. Mixing classical music with Broadway show tunes, he would play with an intensity rarely seen at a comedy show. He was a quick study, too: at his request, I gave him audio tapes of soundtrack music (he was unfamiliar with a lot of pop culture) and he effortlessly added them to his repdetoire. He was also eager to learn about improv, and – to the great delight of my students (and of me), he attended my Monday night improv classes, playing underscore for the scenes. We all benefitted from having him there, and he said that he learned a lot, too: "You can play too much," he said to me once. "Many times, you can do more by playing less."
What follows are answers to questions asked of George some time ago by. His answers help round out the portrait of this remarkable improviser. Tom Soter
DETAIL, CHRONOLOGICALLY, YOUR IMPROV RESUME/CAREER? I joined Tom Soter's group four years ago, and have been only with him since that time.
WHAT DO YOU GET FROM DOING SUNDAY NIGHT IMPROV? IS IT FUN? Yup, very fun. I do it because I enjoy it.
DONE ANY WORK IN TV? FILMS? SCRIPTED THEATER? Occasionally, but nothing substantial.
WHERE DO YOU HOPE TO GO WITH THIS? I'd like to keep getting better at it, and to keep on learning about different musical and acting genres.
WORST IMPROV EXPERIENCE? When I am working with improvisors who have no sense of how to ballroom dance.