Macaroni Lovers Anonymous Hey Everybody group game

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.


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Character & Relationship Trump Plot in this video example from Jive Turkey

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!

 

Trusting and Committing – a 2 person scene video example

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).


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Exercises for Active Emotions

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.

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Comfortable & Committed scene

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.

Patrons & Waitstaff organic group game video

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