Crib note: (n) a translation, list of correct answers, or other illicit aid used by students while reciting, taking exams, or the like
Perhaps two of the more frightening words in the English language are “spontaneous” and “improvisation.”
Working in the theatrical community over the years, I have discovered that certain actors, directors and even writers extol the value of being spontaneous or applaud the introduction of improvisation into the set. Let me explain that the only people who think that spontaneous thought or improvisational input is clever are those who are doing it.
Most of us realize that if we’re listening to someone and we know they are going “off the cuff” or using crib notes they’ve written on their shirt sleeve, or they’re referring to an index card palmed in their hand, it’s just goddam nerve-wracking.
You have to start rooting for them, hoping they don’t implode into meaningless babbling or nonsense.
The truth is, if you have something that you want to come off with a flair of impromptu, you should memorize it.