Tertiary Moves class

Whiteboard; always whiteboard. Yes, “Whiteboard” is a verb.

Objective: Players entering a scene in progress should always seek to heighten the games already in play.  Heightening those games with concentrated pattern mechanics will increase the impact of those tertiary moves.

The following outlines Tertiary and Polish moves with supporting video of me actually teaching a class those moves:

Want to learn more about these moves and/or lead a class based on these moves? Continue reading

Walk-on/off with Split Screen video

In learning Tertiary Moves an improv student is taught that “the first move is trump” (a reference to card games not our shitty president). In practice this means that if the first tertiary move is a Walk-on then the next tertiary move should also be a Walk-on to heighten the game at play.

While there are no mistakes in improv if you do two different tertiary moves that just requires more additional moves to make sense of the larger pattern.

If Player Three does a Walk-on, Player Four does a “We see,” and Player Five does a “Cut to,” while “success” is “possible” you can watch an audience fold its arms and legs, showing they have no faith in what comes next.

But experienced/aware improvisers can mix tertiary moves if they own them and their Triggers. So it is in this clip Continue reading

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.


Continue reading

3D.1 – Being Tertiary

Pop quiz, hotshot. When do you add on to a two person scene in progress?
A. When you have a funny idea
B. When the scene needs to be saved
C. When there are holes in the information on stage
D. When you want to get in on the fun
E. When you can heighten the game in play

Think about it. Now realize the question is flawed because its answers are not mutually exclusive.

Here is the proper pop quiz: When do you add on to a two person scene in progress?
A. To serve yourself
B. To serve the show

Hopefully now the answer is more obvious.

Entering a two person scene in progress, you are a tertiary player. The scene’s not about you and you shouldn’t make it about you. Continue reading

SWOT #15 – Tertiary Additions

We enter a scene only to serve what is already in play. We enter to heighten a Personal Game.  We enter to heighten a Scenic Game.  We may help our fellow players by focusing them on one aspect of the scene when they’re juggling too much, but in that effort we are focusing on what is already an aspect of the scene.

We don’t enter with a self-serving funny idea that risks derailing the central players’ progression.  We don’t enter with totally new information that players on stage now have to address and deal with.  We don’t enter just to selfishly get in on the fun because the scene might have been fun precisely because you weren’t in it.  We don’t help players on stage by changing the direction of the scene; if players were struggling with what they have, they aren’t likely to seamlessly adapt to your idea however brilliant.

We wield a slew of tools: Walk-Ons, Cut-Tos, Tag Outs, etc.  Brandishing these tools in service of what’s already in play we recognize that we must also be ready and willing to draw out Walk-Offs, Cut-Backs, Tag Back Ins, etc.  Entering a two person scene in progress, you are a tertiary player. The scene’s not about you and you shouldn’t make it about you.

An improv team should agree to this Tertiary Player Good Faith Mantra: I will only enter a scene in progress to serve what has already been established. And I will react to those who enter my scene in progress on the assumption they seek to heighten what has already been established.

Tertiary Additions

If this Weakness is identified, the following posts may prove helpful in coaching to the Opportunity:
* Being Tertiary
* Tertiary Moves Drill
* Establishing Personal and Scenic Games

Walk On definition

Walk-ons – we can enter a two player scene in progress as another character, offering a move that contributes to the progression of the game(s) at play. Two high school boys are feeling self conscious in the hallway so Player 3 enters as a mean girl to point out their foibles. Two players are arguing over the value of the movie they just left, so Player 3 enters to agree with one of them and rile the other. If there is one tertiary move an improviser knows, it’s the Walk-on.

Unfortunately, too few improvisers know to Walk Off. You’re a tertiary character; the scene’s not about you. A Walk-on should only be used to heighten/sharpen a game already at play. An entering character must acquiesce to those already on stage and strive not to be the focus of the scene.