Best Friends opening & format

Mikael Johnson, Jason Saenz and I are Best Friends. And our Best Friends format is one of my favorite.

This show was the only show we taped. And while it isn’t our best, it’ll suffice to document our Slideshow Opening and our Three Character Format.

Enjoy “Drunk Camping.”

Here’s our Opening.

For a Suggestion, we ask the audience to “briefly describe a time spent with their best friends.” Then the lights go out. When they come back up, two of our three are frozen in poses on stage while the third stands off stage. It’s akin to the Slideshow short form game. The off stage player describes the tableau as if it was a photo they remember taking. In the description they are able to establish the location, name the other players and endow the characters with personality. The lights go out again. When they again come back on, the players have rotated and Player Two describes the photo they took of Players One and Three. Of course this sequence occurs a third time. By the end of three tableaus, all characters are named and their personalities have been established and heightened. It consistently proved a fun, stylistic and easy way to put all the pieces in place for the show.

Here’s the full show.

The format was simple and effective. It helped provide a dependable flow through which to explore a show where each actor portrayed only one character – which can prove difficult. It allowed us opportunities to explore each character’s relationship with each other character. It allowed us to progress across a timeline without getting bogged down with plot.

Here’s the format in bullets

  • Opening: three tableaus using Slideshow game conventions
  • First Scene: All three characters shared the stage, engaged in the suggestion’s activity
  • 1st Two Person Scene: Two of the three characters without the third
  • 2nd Two Person Scene: Another iteration of two the three characters without the third
  • 3rd Two Person Scene: The remaining set of two of the three characters that hadn’t yet had a scene together
  • Closing: All three characters together again

So beautifully simple.

What value does it have to you?

A) Feel free to use this format. Consider it open sourced.

B) Recognize that a form doesn’t have to be complicated to be AWEsome. Any form should exist to help focus your creativity, not constrain it.

C) Be encouraged to find a form that fits your ensemble. We created our group wanting to explore characters through two and three person scenes. We developed the form around what we wanted to do and what we as an ensemble were good at doing. We didn’t force ourselves into a form that didn’t fit us.

Want to read about my favorite Best Friends show? Then read on.

Our suggestion was “Rolling down hills together.”

In our Opening Slide Show, I was endowed as cautious, Mikael was defined as defiant, and Jason was fearless.

In our First Scene, we stood atop a particularly steep hill. I was worried we’d hurt ourselves but my inner nag was kept in check by a desire to be part of the group. Mikael raised a middle finger and a beer-swiped-from- home toward the prospect of being told “no.” And Jason threw himself down the hill without hesitation.

In our 1st Two Person Scene, I went to visit Jason, years later, at the assisted living facility that was his home since busting his brain on the hill.

In our 2nd Two Person Scene, I met up with Mikael, who, although having been in and out of prison, didn’t have an excuse for never having visited Jason after that fateful day.

In our 3rd Two Person Scene, Mikael and Jason reunited. Mikael expressed sorrow, feeling like he’d been the instigator of Jason’s accident. Jason though acted perfectly happy with his life and the helmet he had to wear.

And in our Closing Scene, we all three convened back at that same steep hill. There was a fence up now. We stared through the fence and remembered the friends we once were. Then we owned up to the friends we were at that moment. And then – having shared a knowing look – we all scaled the fence, threw ourselves over its top and…the lights went out.


Didn’t capture that one on tape. But maybe that’s for the best. I want to forever romanticize the time I spent with my Best Friends.

BF photo

One thought on “Best Friends opening & format

  1. Pingback: Openings: What, Why and Examples | Improv As Improv Does Best

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