Improv comedy course journal: week 4

This is an account of the forth week of a six week improv comedy course run by The National Comedy Theater in San Diego. Read about week 1week 2 and week 3.

We did our usual warm up. The class is getting really good at playing Zip, Zap, Zop and Zoom, Schwartz, Pofigliano. We’re a lot faster and getting a lot further before making a mistake.

Red ball
Another group warm up game. The groups stands in a circle. One person mimes throwing a ball to another person. As they throw it they say “(name of person), Red ball”, the receiver mimes catching the ball and says “Red ball thank you” before passing it on to another person. Once we get the hang of this multiple balls are introduced until the game descends into chaos.

Scenes
We played some basic scenes in pairs. The first person began with an action/mime based off an audience suggestion. The second person came on stage and a short two to five line scene ensued. The teacher gave us some tips for a good scene, I can’t remember them all, but I think they included the following:

  • Don’t ask questions
  • Say yes
  • Add something

Playing scenes is really fun, both to watch and perform. Personally I found the best scenes were the ones that put an emphasis on developing the story and relationships. A few of the members were trying to through in one liners. They got laughs, but I felt they came at the expense of the scene.

Dirty hand randy
Six players stood in a line while the teacher kneeled in front randomly pointing at people. When we were pointed at we had to say something related to an audience suggestion (superhero, American presidents, super heroes, …). Hesitation, or repetition or an off topic response led to elimination.

Switching emotions
Four players are each assigned an emotion sourced from audience suggestions. A mix of positive and negative is best. A scene is played. When a character enters the scene all players in the scene have to inhabit that emotion and play it as strong as possible.

Another week, another fun selection of games and an introduction to more free-form improv with scenes. Looking forward to next week

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