Reminders Part Two
A few more reminders on how to make improvising more fun and, therefore, easier
None of these reminders are mine.
None. I learned all of these from other teachers, directors, performers and audience members.
Your ego might read this list and think, “That’s not true. He’s wrong. I’ve seen this rule broken and it works.” For sure. That’s absolutely true. All of these have been broken and the opposite has worked in scenes. However, the hit percentage of the following ideas are really, really high.
Take what you can, leave the rest.
Improv is a safe space--if you feel physically uncomfortable or emotionally unable to do anything, don't. However, if you're scared, do.
Protect each other. Protect the nerd.
All together never alone. Never all against one .
Don’t make moves that put your ensemble in situations where a yes will lead to inappropriate situations.
Group scenes tend to get messy because everyone wants to talk and not many want to just be background. That’s why improv jams are usually pretty messy, unless it’s a short form jam.
What you can do as a group is so much more than what I can do as one person. Utilize your brain power.
Justify EVERYTHING. Justify, don’t deny.
Bring a brick to your scene, not the whole cathedral. Create the scene together, moment by moment.
Play play play. Fun Fun Fun. Joy Joy Joy.
Fear + Ego are always the root of the problem.
What you always do is good enough.
Let go of ego. Leave it at the door.
Don’t try to get improv right.
There is no right or wrong moves in improv.
BE MEMORABLE. BE GREAT.
Whatever you are gifted with in the scene do it to the best of your ability.
Always play to the very top of your intelligence.
Watching you try to dance funny isn’t as memorable as watching you dance as great as you can.
Be invested in the scene.
Be interested, not interesting.
Jump 100% in, before you know what you're doing.
Affect your scene partner and be affected. There needs to be change.
You have so many characters inside you dying to come out to play—let them.
The only math in improv is 1/x, where x= the amount you’re responsible for. 2 person scene? You’re 1/2 responsible. No more, no less.
Walk on. But don't forget to walk off. Be happy when someone enters a scene.
Let it go where it's going. And let go of trying to make it go somewhere.
Things are always already happening and you’re in the middle of it. Tune in to it.
It’s all about us, not you. If you say “I was trying to..” you’re focused on yourself and not the group.
Leave your ego at the door. Your ego wants you to:
*Stand back and not participate for fear of failing
*Say something funny
*"Figure out" what's happening and define it
*Protect yourself instead of taking risks
*Pull the rug out from other someone in the name of humor
*Be unique and interesting
*Focus on Self
Once you hit a stage, you’re 30% more attractive. Guaranteed. But for some reason, improvisors sometimes lose 30% of their intelligence. For example, obviously seeing what someone is doing but asking, “What are you doing?”
Avoid low hanging fruit. Anyone can do that, it takes no skill and there is no surprise.
Improv audiences come to shows to be surprised.
Be specific. We live life in generalities. In improv, we live and die by specifics.
We are real people living in imaginary circumstances.
YOUR SCENE PARTNER
Fall in love with your scene partner before you begin. Make them look like a rockstar.
The relationship is far more important than where you are or what you're doing.
The answer is always in your scene partner’s eyes.
You have everything you need. That’s why we use object and space work and not props.
Remember “The Matrix.” Neo says, “I need guns.” And all of the guns appear, not just one. Everyone has a gun. So you don’t have to ask if there are guns or if you can have your scene partner’s. And if you have a gun in a scene, it must go off. Doesn’t have to shoot anyone. It has to go off.
Treat your scene partners and, especially, the audience, like the poets and geniuses they are.
If your scene partner is fanning themselves, join them by manifesting the heat i.e. fanning yourself too, wiping your brow, etc.
Make positive, intelligent assumptions about your scene partner. And yourself. Be interested in your scene partner, not interesting.
Angry together at something never each other.
Make yourself the “butt of the joke”. Never ever your scene partner. They are who you need most on stage.
You can never go wrong with matching energy.
Make them look good and you’ll look twice as good.
It’s easiest to know who you’re interacting with in a scene rather than asking questions to get to know them. Even if it’s a scene taking place at a Starbucks, know the barista.
It’s all about connection. Connect with your scene partner and think “Me too!”
Audiences come to have a great time. They come to be entertained, to see something magical happen.
They come to fall in love with you. LET. THEM.
Who's most important in any scene? The audience.
We do what most audience members are afraid to do—speak in public without a script.
The audience is very perceptive and catch everything you do. We need to do the same onstage.
Dress better than your audience. You can always dress down in a scene, you can never dress up.
Lift and place your chair instead of dragging it.
Face out to audience so they can hear and see you. Push your voice through the back wall.
The audience does not care about the form you are doing. They care about being engaged and entertained. The only ones who care about forms are improvisors.
THE SHOW starts once you enter the theater.
Put on a professional show. Have a set intro and a set outro. It’s the first and last thing you leave an audience with so take pride in it. And for goodness sakes, practice your bows.
Improvisors tend to come out with palpable desperation. They jump around with a frenetic energy and clap at the audience. This doesn't put your audience at ease, it makes them anxious. Come on stage like rockstars and have a great bow at the end.
Be confident and competent. Walk on stage and play like a pilot walking through an airport.
Nobody wants to watch you struggle and suffer onstage and it’s not fun to watch mediocrity.
Improv is like a sled going down a hill. Hop on from the start because it’s almost impossible to catch up.
We don’t need props. We use objects. Objects help define the world we live in. It's not that we have to do object work, we get to do object work. It's another character.
Use a mimed door to show what the character is like walking up the door to knock. Are they nervous? Happy? Sad. If there's a real door on stage, use that.
If you lean, it brings your energy down. If you sit, same thing. So always be slightly moving and don’t get comfortable on stage or you'll become a spectator and not a participant.
Assume you’re always needed because you are.
Keep your face out and your eyes up. There is so much milage in letting the audiene take in your silent reactions.
Service the piece. Service the scene. What does the piece need?
Discovery over invention.
Don't create on your own or for yourself. Bring back someone else did rather than what you did.
Add to the group creation.
“If you get weird, I’ll get weirder.”
“Can’t wait to see where we go and who we meet.”
Fail. Fail wonderfully. Fail with a huge fucking grin on your face. Aim. To. Fail.
You will find hints and suggestions to improve your performance as a troupe or an improvisor. We also cover stories from the field of performing on the stage as well as teaching improv. Sometimes we include case studies of our corporate work to show how improv can boost office productivity and morale.
Should you have any questions about our classes, our work, or our essays, feel free to contact us and start a conversation.