I began writing this in 2014 and have not added anything in 2015.
Ostensibly it is a work in progress, I can't say when I will add to it.
But if there is something in here you find useful I am glad
Tips on Improvisation and Improv Comedy for Beginners
I have been a professional improviser for quite a long time. Started young and worked in Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto.I performed in Festivals and Competitions. I produced an Improv TV show and have improvised in front of 4 people and 4 thousand. Even did a late night Call in Show where callers made suggestions for a couple of months.I have been lucky to been exposed to many approaches and styles and from that worked out my own way, which many people do after a years of working at it.This is a work in progress, but I thought I would post it and add to it as I was able.These are my thoughts on things to consider. Take them with a grain of salt as you should anything in any class that involves the arts. There are always some rules that are constant but I believe those should be kept to a minimum.Beware of teachers who have the outlook that there is only one way to do something. And be careful of those who may have little experience but a big ego and set themselves up as an expert instructor.
But enough of all that. Here are some things that may aide you in developing a mindset that creates good improv and fun improv.First don’t try to be funny.Too often people think by coming up with some jokes they can get by. Learn to create something out of nothing and if you commit the humour will follow. And the ability to think of what will be a funny thing to do or say will over time become second nature.COMMITMENT. I don’t mean be committed to learning or anything like that. When you are in a class, or on stage the thing that will make it work is that you COMMIT ENTHUSIASTICALLY to whatever you may be doing. If you are a plumber, be the most enthusiastic plumber. You love plumbing and are looking for ways to plumb. Even if you are not actually working. That is the starting point for great improv. Especially when starting out. Too many students I have taught from professional actors to a lawyer studying for fun approach a task tentatively and they find less directions to take in a scene. They flounder. I will make this point one more time. Over the years you will learn to adjust many things I talk about depending on situations.But in your first few years commitment will always work, 20 year professionals will make big commitments to create the idea that what is going on is of upmost importance. Do the same.This goes for any kind of emotion you might be given or take on. Commit to that anger or love. You have the greatest reason to be angry or to care about someone. People watch it will be drawn in and you will also find the comedy.
Telling a story. Hold on to whatever story that takes shape.Even if it comes down to the fact that you can only hold on to the thread of the story as it was shredded by others. Holding on to a narrative will keep you grounded and give you somewhere to go. Story keep it simple There's enough to think about so it's important to not get bogged down in a story that people keep adding elements to.
If you end up in a scene where for example: It’s on the Titanic piloted by Santa who is trying to keep his mistress off the Bridge because she used to be the girlfriend of mutinous first mate Brad Pitt and you are steering and have been smart enough to not add anything more.Pick an element and try to contribute to that. You could be trying to keep the Titanic straight and help Santa. Accept anything Brad Pitt offers but try to use it in relation to steering and blocking the Mistress.Two things have to happen, the Mistress gets on to the Bridge and you have to deal with the Iceberg.
Don’t have to hit it, but it needs to come up.I just came up with that and it does not sound like a good scene, but if you keep your contribution simple direct and don’t add anymore craziness, you will come out of it with some satisfaction.And that’s not the most complicated scene I have seen or been involved with.When starting to do improv, it is often about learning to survive by doing good work. Not always but be ready.