Improv Is Easy!

(Then why is it so hard?)

15 notes

Agree on one thing (Improv)


Improv folk: Please help me think of ways that people _don’t_ agree at the top of the scene without an outright denial (so no “You’re not my dad, you’re a baboon!).

I guess the reason I ask is that I have been seeing a lot of scenes where performers don’t seem to be in an agreement state of mind in the scene. They’re paying lipservice to yes-and, but they’re really just piling bullshit on top of each other or fighting.

I find myself screaming to myself during these scenes “Just agree on one thing! Like, just agree on what you are doing!” For example:

Person 1: David, your old grandma doesn’t have the energy to bake as much as she used to.

Person 2: But Grandma, you’re the head baker for Girl Scout Cookies! We need those cookies to raise money for the girl scouts!

BULLSHIT! That’s not what your scene partner was talking about at all. She was talking about dying and being old. You’re just trying to hump a game into that scene all by your lonesome.

I saw a scene very much like this recently. Made me so mad. It’s not that I’m against “fish out of water” scenes or scenes with old people in distress (hilarious!), it’s just that it feels like…why did you even go into that scene? Just agree on one thing: tone, situation, what is going on, something. I’m not saying match, just agree.

Here’s the problem: lately, thanks to Will Hines, I’ve been thinking that agreement is everything in improv. Like, game is great, but you can’t frost a cake if your cake tastes like dog shit. And I want to evangelize this, because I see people not agreeing all the time now. Unfortunately, I don’t have any good concrete examples to write about this. Even my above example could be very powerful in the hands of the world’s great improvisers. I know disagreement when I see it, I suppose.

So are there typical “non-agreement” (I think this is a better term than “disagreement”, it’s not diametric) improv moves, especially in the first two lines of a scene that you guys, who are all much better at improv than I am, can think of?

Sorry for the floating grammar in this post.

One possibility that comes to mind is Immediately Changing the Subject…

1. “Oh, man, check out that horse!”

2. “I’m pregnant” or “I was just struck by lightning.”

Does this count?

Disclaimer: I’ve seen this work out REALLY well - the lightning choice, at least.

Filed under Improv Improvisation Comedy

  1. argonkitten reblogged this from shortmikeshort and added:
    Yay! Thoughtful discussion - I love it!
  2. shortmikeshort reblogged this from morganimprov and added:
    I think we actually do agree, Morgan. (My example kind of stinks, because a Beer-Garden is not wildly improbably or...
  3. morganimprov reblogged this from shortmikeshort and added:
    I really, really disagree. Maybe because my brain is UCB-icized? If I was organically handed two pieces of conflicting...
  4. improv-is-easy reblogged this from joestanton and added:
    One possibility that comes to mind is Immediately Changing the Subject… 1. “Oh, man, check out that horse!” 2. “I’m...
  5. khealywu said: Non-agreement is still a denial - it’s a denial of at least part of the reality asserted by a scene partner and it’s BS. Same reason reveals rarely work in improv - they end up feeling like a lie and the audience doesn’t like being tricked.
  6. williebhines said: hooray!
  7. joestanton posted this