Don’t solve problems in improv. If there’s a fire on stage we want to throw gas on it, not water.
A lot of group games start with problem statements. “We need to…” “Let’s figure out…” “Brainstorm time!” The problem with problems is that when we’re focused on working up a solution we too often deprioritize emotional in-the-moment reactions which in improv are always more powerful that clever dialogue.
Hey Everybody mechanics keep us focused on heightening patterns of emotional behavior, helping us to exacerbate problems instead of alleviating them.
Want proof? Watch this.
Check out this Two Person scene performed by Shaheen Ali and Christopher May. In it the performers weave patterns of emotional behavior to link characters, relationships and environment in a sustainable scene. Enjoy!
Jive Turkey is Chris Ulrich and Joe Randazzo. They’ve been working on a two-man format where all the worlds connect.
There’s certainly a through-line of a plot here – finding one character’s spouse, trying to have a threesome with said spouses, etc. – but what I like here is that the worlds are more connected by emotional characters and their words than by the plot.
“Buh-duh, buh, buh, buh,…”…enjoy it!
Want to see a Monoscene? Here’s a good one.
Greg Tindale, Jordan Hirsch, Amanda Hirsch and Sean Murphy of the Washington, DC based group Hijinx took one suggestion and built a great work of character and relationships out of it. Check it out.
Looking for an exercise to help with creating characters and embracing endowments? Here’s one for you.
Boldly choose. Boldly commit. Accept everything your scene partner says and does. Accepting doesn’t mean you have to like it, but you have to allow it to happen – and to repeat.
Commit. Push forward. And you’ll find yourself on the other end.
Stopping forward momentum to discuss, argue or otherwise conflict will kill you as all your scene’s (and the audience’s) focus is on “what do we not understand.”
Commit. Believe and see. And you’ll kill it (rather than the other way around).
Watch this scene, starring Scott Beckett as “Mr. Johnson” and Jonathan Nelson as “Jeeves.”
Don’t be the improver who initiates a scene by running to center stage and delivering a premise.
Don’t be an improviser in a scene where two players stand shoulder-to-shoulder, cheating-out, and talking about something not in-the-moment.
Don’t be a point in the arch of a group game where improvisers stand in a semi-circle and discuss a topic.
See your environment. Endow. And have an emotional stake in the details.
That’s the core of Improv As Improv Does Best.
Here’s a scene from a Pack show I did with Nick Leveski, a seasoned Chicago improviser.
This scene evoked a huge laugh from the audience. Like many stage-to-video improv moments, the laugh gets lost in translation.
But I believe I know what the audience liked. We didn’t explain the scene; we lived the scene. When we as improvisers made choices, the audience could believe that those choices were the characters’ reality all along.
Nick and I had previously talked about avoiding audition scenes and scenes focused on “bad acting.” The audience would rather see you try your best and fail than purposely be bad. We knew I would never actually perform a monologue. The scene is about two improvisers building a world moment-by-moment that the characters have been living since day one.
One trios heightens a One Person perspective. The other trio heightens the established pattern with the other side’s response.
From my 2014 District Improv Festival “Boldly Go, Boldly Follow” workshop featuring Coonoor Behal, Pete Bergen, Jamie Bingner, Christine Crocker, John Heiser, Scott Holden, Jeff Hughes, J.J. Jackson, Patricia Kostiuk, Scott Kostiuk, Colleen McKenna, Ellen Reiterman, Sara Rouhi and Kate Symes