Friday, September 5, 2014
An example of one of the notes I’m slipping into the UCB books we are shipping out today. #improv @utgtheater

An example of one of the notes I’m slipping into the UCB books we are shipping out today. #improv @utgtheater

Friday, March 14, 2014

No Gap Dialog

A lot of improv dialog tends to settle into a regular rhythm, a ping pong back and forth that we encourage in new students. I say something, you listen, pause briefly to consider what I have said and respond. Then I pause briefly to consider what you’ve said and respond to you. This is one way to build a scene, but if this rhythm continues throughout the scene, it can be deadly boring—one polite…

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Kevin Reome and me performing at the Champaign Urbana Improv Festival as Kevintino.

Friday, November 22, 2013 Tuesday, August 27, 2013

This Japanese video game should be an inspiration for your group games in Harold.

Friday, August 9, 2013
My story as an improvisorI moved to Chicago in the spring of 1991 with the hope of becoming a professional actor. Although I…View Post

My story as an improvisor

I moved to Chicago in the spring of 1991 with the hope of becoming a professional actor. Although I…

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Friday, August 2, 2013
Reflecting your scene partner

Whoever speaks second in the scene may only repeat words that the first person says. For instance:
A: I had a terrible day.
B: Terrible?
A: Yeah, I got laid off again.
B: Again?
A: Exactly! They just hired me back a couple weeks ago.
B: A couple weeks ago?
A: Nobody does that. Hires you back, gives you one paycheck and then gives you a pink slip the next day.
B: Nobody does that.
A: I think the boss there must be a sadist.
And so on. Notice how easy this is. It’s easy for the player repeating, all they have to do is repeat a few words that the first speaker says. And it’s easy for the speaker too, they just keep elaborating on what they just said. [Continued…]

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Reflecting your scene partner

Whoever speaks second in the scene may only repeat words that the first person says. For instance:

A: I had a terrible day.
B: Terrible?
A: Yeah, I got laid off again.
B: Again?
A: Exactly! They just hired me back a couple weeks ago.
B: A couple weeks ago?
A: Nobody does that. Hires you back, gives you one paycheck and then gives you a pink slip the next day.
B: Nobody does that.
A: I think the boss there must be a sadist.

And so on. Notice how easy this is. It’s easy for the player repeating, all they have to do is repeat a few words that the first speaker says. And it’s easy for the speaker too, they just keep elaborating on what they just said. [Continued…]

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Thursday, June 13, 2013
Improv scene templates: Third WheelWe tried this template at the end of a rehearsal this week a couple of times. It was a pretty fun…View Post

Improv scene templates: Third Wheel

We tried this template at the end of a rehearsal this week a couple of times. It was a pretty fun…

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Improv scene templates: We Need to TalkLast night I was working with one of the groups that perform at Hump Night. We crafted a template…View Post

Improv scene templates: We Need to Talk

Last night I was working with one of the groups that perform at Hump Night. We crafted a template…

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Friday, May 17, 2013
Improv scene templates: Non sequitur

This scene template is a particularly fun one. It feels a little like a trick, but it can have surprisingly delicious results. It starts very much like the Activity to Point of View scene template that I described on Wednesday. One person enters and starts an activity and another person joins that activity. But when the players speak, it’s completely different.
One person starts a conversation
The first person says 1 or 2 statements about whatever topic they like. They can be describing something that happened to them, their state of mind or sharing their opinion on some topic.
Second person says something which is a non sequitur
The second person listens to what the first person says, but responds by talking about something completely different. Again they should use statements and avoid questions (unless they are rhetorical). If one person wants to talk about their job, the other wants to talk about their heartburn. If one person wants to talk about their sex life, the other wants to talk about Star Trek. They do not even need to verbally acknowledge what the other person says.
Each player continues their topic of conversation
When the first player responds, they again talk about their original topic. And when the second player speaks, they are talking about their topic. It’s as if each person is doing a different monolog and pausing as the other one speaks.
Pick one conversation or merge them
After bouncing back and forth between the two topics of conversation for a few lines, one of the players should switch to talk about the other person’s topic. Or in some cases, the player will realize why these two topics go together and merge them. Don’t force it, wait until a satisfying impulse occurs to you about how to merge them. The scene continues forward at this point like any other scene.
Some things to keep in mind:

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Improv scene templates: Non sequitur

This scene template is a particularly fun one. It feels a little like a trick, but it can have surprisingly delicious results. It starts very much like the Activity to Point of View scene template that I described on Wednesday. One person enters and starts an activity and another person joins that activity. But when the players speak, it’s completely different.

One person starts a conversation

The first person says 1 or 2 statements about whatever topic they like. They can be describing something that happened to them, their state of mind or sharing their opinion on some topic.

Second person says something which is a non sequitur

The second person listens to what the first person says, but responds by talking about something completely different. Again they should use statements and avoid questions (unless they are rhetorical). If one person wants to talk about their job, the other wants to talk about their heartburn. If one person wants to talk about their sex life, the other wants to talk about Star Trek. They do not even need to verbally acknowledge what the other person says.

Each player continues their topic of conversation

When the first player responds, they again talk about their original topic. And when the second player speaks, they are talking about their topic. It’s as if each person is doing a different monolog and pausing as the other one speaks.

Pick one conversation or merge them

After bouncing back and forth between the two topics of conversation for a few lines, one of the players should switch to talk about the other person’s topic. Or in some cases, the player will realize why these two topics go together and merge them. Don’t force it, wait until a satisfying impulse occurs to you about how to merge them. The scene continues forward at this point like any other scene.

Some things to keep in mind:

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