Split Screen Duologues Opening

Looking for a fun character-based Opening for your long-form improv format?

Try a Duologue or, like The Johnsons do, try several.  Here are two examples –

Early in The Johnsons’ existence, the group used a To The Ether game as their Opening.  Obviously, I’m a big pattern fan and I liked the game’s showcase of how an ensemble collaborates to build a collective progression.

Buuuuuttt,…the game put the team in their heads. And while sometimes it killed, others it flopped and sometimes it, well, just was.  This is not ideal in an Opening.

In addition to blowing out the suggestion, an Opening helps a team generate energy, introduce their style and set up an expectation for the show.

This Duologue Opening still enables the group to show off how they accept and heighten each other – the partners endow each other with information they immediately own.  But more importantly it grounds them in Character and Relationships as the base for their format.  The characters introduced CARE – about each other and the topics they’re discussing.

Here are some key tenets The Johnsons keep in mind during their Opening:

  • The group/pairing that the person who gets the Suggestion joins is NOT the first group/pairing to speak
  • Each group/pairing strives to start with a different take on the Suggestion
  • Speaking to the audience – a la interviews in Christopher Guest movies – players are able to quickly endow each other with characteristics
  • To keep the Opening brisk and ultimately within 3 minutes, groups/pairings are empowered to “take focus” from one another rather than wait to be given focus
  • While in the First Pass characters are based in their interpretation of the Suggestion, if the groups/pairings get a Second Pass then players seek to heighten their games to context beyond the Suggestion
  • Openings don’t need Second or Third Passes and if a subsequent pass does get initiated then each group/pairing does NOT have to speak in before the edit (as can be seen in the “Potato” example above)

The Johnsons are Scott Beckett, Shawn Hambright, Townsend HartJohn Hilowitz, Joe Mack, Jonathan Nelson, Jessi Schmale and Lauren Serpa


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