I love “the moment.” I love the way an authentic reaction to a moment -that in no way could have been preconceived – can connect with an audience for a big laugh.
And I LOVE when concentrated pattern play incorporates “the moment” to be something uniquely Improv As Improv Does Best, connecting the ensemble and the audience in a previously-unknowable, perfectly-found moment.
“An ensemble of players gets on stage without previously rehearsed lines or blocking and acts out, making up the show as they go along. The audience understands that this show is constructed from nothing before their eyes. In these aspects, improvisational performance differentiates itself from any other performance medium.”
In a Help Desk Game, the progression of the scenic games establishes the pattern, and that pattern’s evolving repetition serves to heighten a personal game or theme.
What’s just beautiful thinking about these comic strips as improv scenes using the Help Desk Dynamic, is how they get to call lights before they have to get to the punchline. By setting our expectations in the first interaction, WE – the reader or audience – laugh at following the second interaction in our own heads based on the first. Our Lizard Brain laughs at the recognition of the pattern – and that’s enough for your edit!
Patterns allow us to play confidently. Thanks for the illustrations, Jef and Tim!
It’s a fine line between a character evoking a plot and a character reacting to their reality. A very fine line. But I believe that attention to that line can mean the difference between a scene where improvisers force a sequence of events dependent on an audience’s satisfaction with a resolution and a scene where characters are engaged in the moment of their reality with an audience reacting to – and investing in – a character’s consistency regardless of “sense.”
The following is a series of exercises geared toward prioritizing characters in-the-moment over improvisers setting-up-situations-to-be-negotiated. Continue reading →
A wonderful conceit about Seinfeld, explicit in the meta-dealings with Jerry’s and George’s sitcom pitch within the sitcom, was that it was a “show about nothing.”
Yet of course the truth is that, while maybe an episode is not be driven by plot, it is about “something” – every episode revolves around the way known characters react to “something.” Continue reading →
There’s more than one way to draw a straight line.
Both scenes work in an improv context. No doubt. But I prefer the second iteration.
The second scene is more dynamic. Yes, both Bobs are altered by scene’s end and both scenes progress, but in the second scene Bob’s change is clearly delineated to establish a rhythm and to set expectations for heightening repetition with the audience.
If you’re on my site, you are interested in learning. Bravo! It is way too easy to coast in a hobby (and unless you’re one of the few that actually improvises for a living it’s a hobby for you). But if we really care about this art of ours, and we care about the audience and the quality of shows we present, we must commit to continual improvement.
In the management consulting world, we talk about the path from Unconscious Incompetence to Conscious Incompetence to Conscious Competence to Unconscious Competence. Continue reading →