Improv Tip; Let Positivity Be Your Default

I'm not saying you CAN'T start a scene in negativity and deprivation. I'm just saying that it's harder... and I'm a lazy improviser. You'd be setting up existential challenges for your audience before you even start the scene. They'll be asking... If they hate it here, why don't they leave? If they hate this activity why don't they stop If they hate that person, why don't they just tell them to fuck off? Most importantly... Why the hell am I watching this scene? Positivity and abundance answers those questions with just a few words and lets you explore deeper themes that the scene can eventually be about. The same thing goes for the location, the activity and the price of a newspaper. If you

Improv Tip; Make Active & Positive Choices

"Make Active & Positive Choices" Elaine May & Del Close I first read this quote in Jeffrey Sweet's seminal book Something Wonderful Right Away: An Oral History of the Second City and the Compass Players. I'm happy to say that since that day Jeffrey & I have become fast friends... getting slower as the years go by. Let's work backwards. I'd like to cover Positive Choices first. To me this means start your scene in a place of positivity and abundance. That's a place you want to be, doing an activity that you do well and enjoy doing, with a person with whom you are intimately acquainted. Sounds easy. The opposite demands that the audience watch you in a place you don't want to be, doing an act

Improv Tip; It's An Actor's Job to Justify.

"It's An Actor's Job To Justify." Del Close & Elaine May This is the last of 3 principles from Elaine May & Del Close, as I read them in Jeffrey Sweet's book Something Wonderful Right Away. As actors we're in the business of justification. We stand in a room with 3 walls and pretend that there's a 4th. We stand in a room full of people and pretend that we are alone. We do and say things that we ourselves would never do, but we do and say those things in service of the story we're telling. In improvisational acting, we don't get to plot out those stories ahead of time. We are the conduits by which the story reveals itself. I think that's what Elaine May & Del Close meant when they wrote tha

Improv Tip; Support & Enjoy The Physical, Verbal & Emotional Reality of The Scene

"Support the physical, & verbal reality of the scene" Elaine May & Del Close This one takes a bit of explaining. The first 3 of my improv tips come from Elaine May & Del Close, as I read them in Jeffrey Sweet's book Something Wonderful Right Away. Two of those quotes are verbatim, as written in the book. One of them... this one... has seen some amendments. Here's what's written in the book... "Support the physical, & verbal reality of the scene." To start with, if you're not supporting a scene as an improvisational actor, you're not doing your job. Maybe the best Oscar is best supporting actor after all. In the course of working with improv actors I found almost immediately I need to add.

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