Embracing the uncertainty of the first seconds of the scene is essential to a good scene. Starting with small and simple offers relieve the pressure. Being connected with the present and with your partners gets you out of your head.
Improv scenes tend to do be a loop of:
There is something a little magical about being one of only a few black people in a room, on a street, in a space. There is, for me at least, always an acknowledgement and an appreciation and an acceptance of each other, no matter the gender or the age, and it makes me feel connected in a way that…
'if at first you don't succeed…' The science version!
Is there a way to practice being funnier? Generally, people say no. A sense of humor is so personal and subjective that we can’t teach it, all we can do is tell you how to best express your sense of humor. You tell us what you think is funny, and then we’ll tell you how to exaggerate that and heighten it.
Well, probably. But I’m trying to think of exercises and principles that might at least increase funniness. This feels sort of forbidden to even try. I might look back in a few months and think “Nope, you can’t really teach it.” But for now I’m trying.
This is one of those entries that should definitely be regarded as BETA.
So: One of the clearest ways to have something funny in your improv scene is to have something IRONIC. It’s not the only way, but it’s the clearest way. By ironic I mean something behaving in the opposite way that we expect it to.
A drill sergeant screaming nice things. A Mother Superior tearing apart her hotel room in a rage. A teacher burning a book. A bully cheering on the math team.
Could be the setting. A drill sergeant acting just like a drill sergeant but he’s in a yoga class.
It’s very close to simply being MEAN or STUPID — but it’s not. It’s something behaving in the opposite way. It’s not someone acting arbitrarily random, it’s opposite of their expected way. It’s not a drill sergeant being really into dubstep. It’s a drill sergeant being forgiving, or being against rules, or being soft-spoken.
Gilbert and Sullivan called this “the topsy-turvy.”
I bring this up because I see a lot of improvisers do scenes where something weird is happening, but it really isn’t funny.
i love the 30 rock jokes that are specifically for losers who’ve taken improv classes
This is, HANDS DOWN, my favorite 30 Rock moment.
This is one of the single most important statements made about how to direct a comedy. I am not exaggerating. Shittier comedy directors focus on closeups, so you can see actors make silly faces. Great directors use more wide shots, so you can feel how everyone reacts.
I’m lost in thought, on my way to pay for an improv space, wondering if I’ll get into the class I applied for, when an older gentleman, as bundled for the cold as I am, waves his hand to indicate that I can step in front of him and step on the train first.
I get the sense that he doesn’t speak,…