Genres – a warm-up for playing with expectations

Repetition of an interaction establishes expectations for the audience.  These expectations can be played to and against for fun effect.

As a precursor to Help Desk Games, the short-form improv game Genres can help us practice pacing in repetition of an interaction, and help us flex our memory muscles.

Performers are: David Adams, Guy Chapman, Patrice Deveaux, Micah Head, Alan Hopkinson, Nick Lawton, Megan Lemay, Jillian MacDougall, Tim Magier, Curtis Nunnally

GENRES – The Instructor gets/has a list of Movie/TV Genres (Ex: Horror, Disney, Western, etc.)  Two or Three Players get on stage and engage a scene as they would any regular Two or Three Person Scene (remember: More Players? Less Stuff. If you choose to do Three Person Scenes, encourage players to Agree with one another.)  The scene will be short and the Instructor will call the edit.

Players will then be given a Genre through which for them to repeat the original scene. Repeat a few times with different genres.


  • Remember Memory? – We have to Remember the original scene if we are to repeat it. This can be a good memory exercise.
  • Filter – The funny of this game is hearing/seeing old things through a new lens. If the first scene was a teenage girls’ sleepover and the new genre is “Western,” it’s fun to see cowboys sleeping around a fire, but we still want them to care about things like the teenage girls would have.
  • Keep some things the same, change others – In addition to following the same general scene arc as the original as we go through genres, we can find fun in keeping certain lines of dialogue the same (Ex: the teenage girls, the cowboys and the aliens all say, “OMG”). What changes from one iteration to another should continue to change and heighten (Ex: “It cost me ten dollars!” says a teenager; “It cost me my best horse and favorite spittoon!” says a cowboy; “It cost me a blurkin flurbittydoo!” says an alien).
  • Pacing – Each iteration can get faster and/or more energetic. Once expectations are established, the Instructor can give a Genre that players address with only one line before the edit comes (Ex: “The next genre is ‘Porn.’” “Someone order a pizza?” -lights-).

One thought on “Genres – a warm-up for playing with expectations

  1. Pingback: Warm-Up Exercises | Improv As Improv Does Best

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