Q and A Sessions & Talk Backs
Its funny because we do Q and A sessions after almost every show we do for school groups at the club. Some of the questions, being that we have a lot of younger grade school groups can be random and ridiculous such as: Why does your voice sound squeaky? Do you guys like each other? How come the guy with the brown hair looks like he doesnt want to be here? How old are you guys? How much do you get paid? Are you on icarly? Whats your favorite food?
OK so those are um.. interesting.
Anyway I though I would answer a legit question that we frequently get asked by teachers and students attending our shows:
Why do you do improv?
I have a few reasons of my own for doing improv. For one thing there are no lines to memorize. How awesome is that? Another reason is that the show is different every time. I like the challege. I like the challenge of having to come up with something different and new every performance. .. But most of all I LIKE FREEDOM. I like having the freedom to be whoever and whatever I want to be on stage. I love how I am able to play characters that I might not have a chance to play if I was cast in a scripted show or tv/film role. If I were to audition for a show the person in charge of casting would decide what role I was right for and cast me in it. In improv I can create my own role and not be forced to do what someone else thinks I should be doing. How many times have actors been told they were just “not what we’re looking for for this character even though your very talented”.. with improv, I have the freedom to play a 2 year old kid, a 20 year old rockstar, a crazy man from Sheboygan.. I can be who I want, say what I want, go where I want. I also like putting on silly wigs and making a fool of myself. But that’s a whole other topic.
Are you SUPER Superstitious? I have been known to be a little bit superstitious at times. There is one superstition that I tend to get a little bit paranoid about. The Scottish Play. I won’t even write the words because the legend has it that by saying the name out loud you can summon the spirits of pissed off witches that cursed the production a long long time ago because they were offended by a specific scene in the play. So I don’t blame them if they were offended because over the years many productions of that play have had bad luck attached to them. Now writing it on a blog is different than saying out loud but I would rather not take any chances. Another superstition is the “good luck” scenario. You’re not supposed to say good luck in showbiz. They say it’s actually bad luck. So rather than say “good luck” you’re supposed to say “break a leg”. Now see.. I don’t really think isn’t a good idea either. Why? Well.. people DO break legs on stage. Sometimes they twist ankles or knees or just fall down.. it happens. I saw it happen in a college production I was in. It was actually a sprained ankle. So after it happened I remember having a discussion with other cast members about how maybe we shouldn’t say “break a leg”.. So what do we say? “knock ‘em dead”…hmmm.. yeah maybe that’s not such a good idea either. So when it comes down to what to say I think the best thing to say: Have a good show! or Have a good audition! Also don’t walk under a ladder or break any mirrors in the dressing room while you’re at it.
My Favorite Improv Game List
There are literally 100’s of improv games and these are some of the most popular that we present in our shows. This page describes how to play each game and offer free examples and clips to download.
Audience Sound Effects
Two audience volunteers are invited on stage to provide the sound effects for two actors up on stage. They can lead the actors into a sound effect or the actors can prompt the sound effect by an action or activity. Watch a WMV clip!
The performers improvise a story in the style of various authors suggested by the audience. The MC/ hosts asks the audience for the authors and conducts the story by pointing to the actors to tell story in said style throughout various points of the story.
Watch a WMV Clip of the “Authors” Improv on stage!
Beat Box Improv
This requires a good sense of rhythm among the players. Four players enter the stage as the MC gets a suggestion for a favorite sport, food, animal or movie, etc. The first player lays down a very basic beat. Then each player adds on his or her own layer/beat. Once all four player have reached a steady rhythm as a group the first player steps downstage and raps four lines about the suggsted subject in the format of AA/BB. Once those for lines are finished the player steps back and the next player does the same. When all four players have gone the first player throws out one line for the second player to rhyme. Then the third player throws out a line for the last player to rhyme with. The song finishes by everybody repeating the final line by the last player. Confused yet? Watch WMV Beat Box
This improv is great for getting audience members on stage. Two actors perform a scene and two audience volunteers are seated on each side of the stage. From time to time the actors will point to the audience members to “fill in the blanks” of either a sentence or word. Watch a clip
Day in the Life (Modern Dance)
An audience member is interviewed for details from a specific personal life experience or event. Players act out the event by recreating mini scenes to a modern dance or ballet. This can also be done as a musical. Watch a clip of Day in the LIfe Improv
Film and Theatre Styles
The MC asks the audience for a variety of theatre and film styles (horror, suspense, action, romantic comedy, etc) Two players start off the scene in no particular style. From time to time the MC will say “freeze” and give the actors one of the suggested styles. The two actors continue the same scene in the style call out by the MC. Watch clip from LMAO Off Broadway http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfX0nD9ubGE. (more at www.lmao-nyc.com)
Two players sing in a made up language (gibberish style) and two others interpret what they are singing after each line. Can be done acapella, with piano or guitar. Watch video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kpn68fdTK5c
Foreign Language/Foreign Film
Same as foreign Opera but without the music. (see clip of For Opera)
Freeze Frame or Human Slideshow
Audience volunteers are asked to come on stage and pose with the actors in a series of pictures/slides. 1-2 players narrate the slides as a vacation, historical event, area of expertise, etc.Watch a clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtC0C4pcahQ
Four players one by one join in on a car ride started by one player as the driver. The players take on various emotions given from the audience. As the driver picks up each hitcher, the entire car takes on that emotion.
Irish Drinking Song AKA Irish Jig
The players sing a song about a topic in the style of an irish drinking song or “irish jig” Watch clip
A capella choral song weaving a series of audience suggestions. Each player is given an initial statement (usually a newspaper headline). After each player adds their suggestions, a musical treatment and builds into a fugue-like choral work, the players mix and match the lines and various elements to create new absurd headlines/statements. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKQjXZ__3Ew
One to Five
Players act out a 1 minute scene timed by the MC. The same scene repeats at 30 seconds, 15 seconds, 10 seconds, 5 seconds while maintaining the basic structure of the original.Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AJNF-jUxao
PBS Interview/Miracle Ear
Player one interviews player two, the author of a new book title suggested by the audience. Third player fills in for the missing sign language interpreter by acting out everything in the interview. Watch clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGG31jXTMag
This is a musical guessing game. All set to music, the “promdate” has to guess three things about his/herself given by the audience: a job/occupation, quirk/tick and mode of transportation to the prom. The other two players (the parent and date) help drop clues to the “promdate” until they guess each of the given things through the magic of song.
3 Player are each given a quirk by the audience and must sing about their problems to the therapist. The therapist sings back to them a solution or advice on the problem. Watch a clip of Singing Shrink Improv
Sing It/Speak it
Players act out a scene about a suggested topic. When the MC prompts them to “Sing it!” they must sing a song beginning with the last line of dialogue until the MC says “Speak it”.
Two Headed Man
Two performers must speak in unison as one person. Usually the MC asks the audience for a job that the two headed man is coming to interview for. Then the interviewer asks the two headed man various questions that the two performers must answer together as one. Watch Clip
We have more educational materials and study guids available at the Improv 4 Kids Website:
Raunchy VS Clean Comedy
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had grown adults come into our showroom and look around the room and see some kids and say “is this a kids show?”
The answer is no..BUT we HAVE a show just for kids that we do as well (Improv 4 Kids! http://www.improv4kids.com.) This means we have a lot of young fans. I love that. When we are old and gone these guys will be running the world and setting trends… But what about LMAO? Yes, it is a good show to bring kids to (Laughing My ANKLES off) So is Iron Man 2 and Lion King on Broadway. If you went to see either of these and walked in and saw children would you want to leave the theatre? Probably not. So this always puzzles me. I think some of it has to do with the fact that people think comedy = raunch. Never mind that some of the best shows and movies out there have been rated PG. There have been so many Primetime sitcoms going back 50 years that are absolutely hilarious. I guess it all comes down to people thinking that being censored is going to hinder the humor. With our show it is actually the opposite. It forces us to raise the bar and it makes it a lot more interesting and funny for everyone. We used to do late night shows that were specifically designed for the raunchy and well.. they were so gross. They started off low and then kept getting lower and lower and lower until there was nowhere to go. I think eventually the thrill was gone and there was no more challenge. I won’t go into the details of the subject matter discussed on stage but it went beyond being wrong on so many levels. I just like being able to appeal to all audiences. It’s fun. At the end of the day I would rather be part of something that raises the bar rather that lowers it. As for my watching preferences.. I like both. I will watch both as long as it’s funny.
Eight is NEVER Enough http://www.eightimprov.biz
Improv 4 Kids http://www.improv4kids.com