The Afterparty Stars Open up About Injecting Improvisation Into the Murder Mystery

With most murder mysteries, a storyline and script need to be finely crafted to make sure to convey the various intricacies and unexpected reveals of such a storyline, often requiring performers to stick closely to the script to ensure no clues are revealed preemptively. With Apple TV+'s new whodunit The Afterparty, however, the creators enlisted the talents of an impressive ensemble of comedians to craft a more collaborative experience, which often meant allowing and encouraging performers to improvise. Star Ike Barinholtz, who has a strong background in improvisational comedy, recently detailed that, while there might be pressure to improvise moments to amplify the source material, it was more about finding more organic exchanges than attempting to improve upon the script. The Afterparty debuts on Apple TV+ on January 28th.

"It's very interesting how you phrased that, because I guess there is some kind of pressure," Barinholtz shared with ComicBook.com about the experience of purposefully bringing improvisational skills to the project. "I know they hired me because I'm an improviser, and how do I make this better, it's already great? And, for the most part, it's not even about making it better, it's just being like, 'This seems like a little fun area where I can see a little run going here,' you know what I mean? And just all the credit to Chris Miller, to have this so mapped out in that brain of his and executing it to the level he did where he could allow for stuff like that, not just allow for it, but guide the improv. Guide it to a place where it's usable." 

He continued, "A lot of time, you have actors improvising and stuff, and a lot of times, it's just masturbatory, for lack of a better term, because there's no chance it's gonna end up in the movie because it's not necessarily on story or in character. Chris is able to push you to a place with it where you feel like you're adding, you feel like you're contributing, you feel like you're getting out what's inside your head. But it has a halfway decent chance of being in the final product, which is, all credit to him."

Zoë Chao also stars in the series, though compared to her co-stars, her role in the project didn't require incorporating as many comedic moments so much as she was tasked with grounding the overall narrative in some semblance of reality.

"It's so fun being on set and everyone is so funny and everyone is so alive and going off in the most incredible ways and there were moments where I was like, 'Man, I'm not doing anything funny. I'm not funny,'" the actor admitted. "I did actually really get down on myself, and then I had to remember that, 'Wait, we're all responsible for different parts of the story, just tell your part of the story, Zoë, and that's how you can best serve.' And so it was a good learning moment for me, to step back and be like, 'Okay, what is it we're trying to do and how do I fit into this puzzle?' and then once I did realize that, a lot of pressure was taken off. Because I think I was putting some sort of pressure on me to be as brilliant as these insanely talented improvisers."

Apple TV+ describes the series, "The Afterparty centers on a murder mystery at a high school reunion. Each of the eight episodes features a retelling of the same night told through a different character's perspective, each with its own unique visual style and film genre to match the teller's personality."

The Afterparty debuts on Apple TV+ on January 28th.

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