To The Ether Example – Johnsons’ Giraffe

In this clip, The Johnsons of The Coalition Theater in Richmond, VA use a To The Ether game as their Opening.  This one’s short and sweet.  Following his fellow players after the suggestion of “Giraffe,” the third player references “toes” in his Cement move, following the giraffe down its body.  The fourth move doesn’t follow that progression but follows the language while heightening emotion and physicality.  And it’s thankfully funny enough to earn an edit so nothing has to follow it.

1.4 – To The Ether Games


I like Frisbee.
I like hacky sack.
I like hitting this one stick I wrapped in ribbons with these other two sticks I wrapped in different ribbons.
I like the Grateful Dead.
I like acoustic guitar around a beach bonfire.
I like blowing into this diggerydoo I crafted in the company of native Aborigines during the Australian leg of my Peace Corp stint.
I like tie dye.
I like white-girl dreadlocks.
I like the hemp clothing, ropes and cleansing products I handmake and sell in open air markets and on commune tours with all profits going to Amnesty United.
Man, I just like being stoned.

In a To The Ether game, the progression of personal games establishes the pattern, and the scenic game is heightened in that pattern’s evolving repetition.

For focus sake, the pattern is emphasized over any need to contextualize or justify where the players are or who they are to one another. Players can literally deliver their lines into empty spaces without expectation of a conversational response. Thus, “To The Ether” games. Continue reading

1.8 – More Hey Everybody Games


“Hey Everybody” initiations can lead to some pretty stilted scenes wherein the initiator forces the role of facilitator. If you’ve seen improvisational performance, you’ve seen these scenes.

“Ladies and gentlemen, [important person] is ready for your questions.”
“I gathered you all here today because…”
“Class! Class, pay attention (to me).”

Players rush out on stage to support the initiation, but Continue reading

Emotional Heights/Depths exercise

Emotional Heights/Depths: Committed emotion should be an improviser’s base at all times. We need to be able to exhibit the highest highs and lowest lows on stage so we need to practice emotion at the extremes to become comfortable in that space.

EMOTION TO 11 – Teacher gives students an emotion. The class gives a suggestion of what to emote to. Around a circle, students engage in that emotional perspective toward that suggestion, ramping up from 1-10 to 11. You’ll need to be attentive in this one since people tend to hit walls here. They really need to go bonkers and forget to make sense in what they’re saying. If someone really clams up, offer to do it with them, alongside them. Use your judgment to know when to push and when to let it go.
• Give big, round, easy emotions, “happy, sad, fear, anger”
• Push people, gently “more, bigger” to discover and emote. Don’t be mean. Do it with them if they struggle.
Exude the emotion physically – 11 in sadness is rolling on the floor and weeping
Push it past comfortable – being vulnerable enough to share big emotions can be hard, but we have to trust each other and the safe place to “go big” in practice. Support each other with applause.
Being bored or unaffected is hard to heighten – care

Action Pass exercise

ACTION PASS – In a circle, a player turns to his left and executes an action, any action. The next player observes that action and attempts to recreate it EXACTLY in turning to the player to their left.
• Do it once through. Then immediately have them do it again focused on slowing down and really noticing all the nuances of a player’s action and working to repeat the action exactly.
• Call attention to what makes them laugh – straight repetition, embracing something “accidental”
Focus Outward – take the time to really see all that players are giving you. The first step in reacting to what’s happening is seeing what’s happening.
Support your fellow player’s moves – There are no mistakes/There is no “right.” There is only “what has happened” and “what’s happening now.”