Steps to Great Improv

Steps to Great Improv

Improv means you are unscripted. It’s used all the time in auditions, rehearsals, and performances.

Some quick improv don’ts:

Don’t tell a joke. Don’t ask questions, as they usually don’t move you forward. Don’t get caught to an idea you think is great after something else has been started. When working with more than two people in an improv scene, try not to start a new conflict when everyone else is already dealing with one. Don’t hog the action (it’s a back and forth game).

Some quick improv do’s:

1. Making choices.

A. Who (basic character type). The best way to create a character in improv is to think of a very specific personality type and just start moving like the character. Choosing an occupation might help to spark a character. Or you could pick someone you’ve seen in real life or a movie. Really get into the body of the character and try to physicalize him. Also, use your voice in interesting ways. Whatever the other person chooses as a character, make sure you choose the exact opposite so you will have a conflict. For example, if I am the clean freak, you would choose the slob.

Two choices work well for comedy. First, choose to play every detail that is exactly like your specific character. (Do everything a real old lady actually would do in great detail, for example.) Second, choose the exact opposite of who we think you would be in the situation (the Queen of England working at a fast food restaurant).

B. Where (setting).

Create where you are specifically. Imagine someplace interesting. Don’t TALK about the setting, but SHOW us instead. For example, don’t tell me you see the pool, but splash water on someone.

C. What (conflict, or “the game”).

The conflict is so important that we call it “the game.” You can’t have a scene without a conflict. This rule is going to save your tush in any improv scenario. As soon as you establish your characters, whatever the other person does that you notice first irritates you. Once you are obviously irritated by it, you have basically told the other character “the game,” and he does more of it.

Always allow the conflict to heighten and move forward so it grows and grows.

2. “Yes, and…”

The “Yes, and…” rule is one of the most basic rules of improv. It means that whatever has been established, you must agree and move it forward.

3. No negation.

That leads us to the next rule: Never negate someone else’s reality. For example, if Bob pretends like he has found $100, you would not say, “No you didn’t.”

4. Everything affects you.

A simple trick to always have something going on is to think that everything the other person does drives you crazy.Pay more attention to the other person than you do yourself. And always just go with what’s right in front of you. Don’t try to make some amazing plot work out. The little truths that just happen are the best.

5. Physicalize.

This is what I yell out most as I am coaching improv: “Physicalize!” “Use your body.” “Show me, don’t tell me.”

By | 2017-03-11T03:38:03+00:00 February 9th, 2017|Featured, Film and TV Acting|