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Improv Rules

  1. Yes, And… Say “Yes” to everything! The rule of improv is that no matter what your fellow actors say, you agree with them to move the scene forward. “No” is a dead stop to a scene – not very funny at all.  The “And” part of this rule means to always add on to the scene. Give additional information. Make a new offer.
  2. Don’t deny. Denial is trashing what somebody else has set up or is trying to set up.  There are many forms:

Mime Denial: Somebody spends five minutes setting the dining room table, another character walks right through it. This will make the audience squirm and gasp and have a general sicky feeling.

Character Denial: Not letting the other person be what she wants to be.

--Hi, I'm your Dentist.

--No you're not. You're my personal chef!

Location Denial: Contradicting setting information someone else established. 

--Wow, this line for the roller coaster is really long.

--What are you talking about? We're in a helicopter!

  1. The rule of “three.” The rule of three in improv means that once a phrase, word, or comment has been stated three times it is time to move on.
  2. Support your team members or partner. This rule means that no matter what the scene, you support the other cast members. Listen to them. React to what they say. Don’t just try to talk over them.

Try to always make your partner look good. Rather than looking out for yourself, always look to support the other actors - to offer suggestions when someone seems to run out of ideas and gets stuck - knowing that they'll do the same for you when you get stuck. If you help each other out, together you have successful scene. We got each other's back, we all pull our weight, we leave no one behind. We're a team. What we do, we do together.

  1. It’s ok to make mistakes! If you make a mistake, it’s not a big deal! Just learn from the mistake and don’t do it again. We’re all learning and making mistakes is part of the learning process. We can learn from our mistakes and get better.

Improv Vocabulary

Improvisation: Unplanned acting without a script; an act made up along the way.

Planned Improvisation: Creating a scene with some preparation beforehand.

Spontaneous Improvisation: Creating a scene with minimal or no preparation.

Accepting: Agreeing to an offer.

Advancing: The process of moving a scene forward.

Blocking: Saying no to an offer or denying an offer.

Chivalry: Giving up control and being flexible with others’ ideas.

Endowing: Giving characteristics or traits to another player’s character.

Mannerisms: Someone's mannerisms are the gestures or ways of speaking which are very characteristic of them, and which they often use.

Motivation: The reasons for speech and action. Why characters say and do things.

Offer: An action or dialogue to start the action of a scene.

Physicality: A focus on physical movement that suggest age, gender, emotion, and/or physical condition.

Status: A character’s social standing or feeling of self-esteem. How important are they? Do they have any authority?

Subtext: The underlying meaning; what isn’t said but is implied; the character’s inner feelings and intentions that are not expressed directly.

Wimping: Accepting an offer/idea, but doing nothing to progress a scene.