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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Massage Convention Hey Everybody group game

“A Massage Convention’s an HR hotbed.” –> “If OSHA says this is wrong, I don’t want to be right.”

With Hey Everybody mechanics in our back pocket we can confidently jump into chaos knowing that all we need to do is each stick and heighten our individual perspectives while collectively sticking to the order of individual contributions. With these tools we harness the power of the chaos, enabling it to swell and pop.

We can relax, too, in the knowledge that every player doesn’t need to nail it; they just need to participate. Especially in that first pass, what’s most important is just for each player to say/do something, anything. And if “anything” is too broad and therefore crippling then we remember that we can always align and agree with one another as well.

Watch this example. Note how the first pass gets established – who agrees with whom, who has a different perspective, who doesn’t speak. How many different perspectives would you say are in play among these 7 improvisers?


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Patterns and Games Montage

I am immensely proud of this show and the group that created it. It comes from The Coalition Theater’s Fall Patterns and Games Class.

In a Patterns and Games, success and failure hinged on the collective performance of the group. And…this class succeeded. Watch them all support each other through a performance that runs the gamut of games – rubric and organic, shorter and longer, lots of folks and few folks. The show is well paced, varying the use of moves from scene to scene.  Most importantly, as you can see, the group clearly had a lot of fun performing in it.  And the audience loved it. 

When improvisers follow each other, committing to taking the next step together, confident they’ll find whatever end together, the audience leans in, along for the ride. That’s improv as improv does best. Especially impressive given the size of the group, the level of collaboration shown here by a 301 class is alone worth the watch.  Enjoy!

Players are: Gerard Antoine, Sarah Berday-Sacks, Kevin Clatterbuck, Michael Farmer, Patrick Gaskill, Zachary Mann, Shannon Rodriguez, Hannah Rumsey, Max Senu-Oke, Geoff Stone, Vince Sunga, Carter Tait and Elliot Wegman

Walk On, Walk Off – The Johnsons at the ballpark video example

Tertiary Player Good Faith Mantra – I will only enter a scene in progress to serve what has already been established.

If you’re entering a scene in progress, that scene is not about you. If you Walk On, you should only do so to heighten a reaction already perceived in the scene – feed a character’s personal game or characters’ scenic game.

And if you Walk On, Walk Off.

And if there’s one Walk On, one should be looking to do more. Be sure to find the rhythm of entering – don’t rush to be the 2nd Walk On, wait for the heigtening of the moment that proceeded the 1st. Make each other look good.

That’s what The Johnsons do.


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Forging an Organic Format: part one

I’m enamored by memories of the Chicago teams “People of Earth” and “American Dream.” Often an audience member remembers a show by the handful of great scenes it produced. These groups of talented improvisers created memorable shows because the scenes built on each other to create a singular experience.
This post aims to provide some guidance to groups that endeavor to perform memorable shows not just memorable scenes.

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