Just do what you know

by EvanJPalmer


The hardest thing about improv is getting to the point of realising how easy it is. -Jon B

We had an excellent Improv jam at the Lybrary last night. It was run by Jon, and he taught us two pretty cool techniques.

1) Start a scene off with an opposite view of an opinion that you already have
This is really just a way to start a scene. My friend who is a vegetarian, and not even remotely into any sport, started off talking about how much he likes meat and football. It was good. They were double hander scenes, and the other player either complimented the player or tried to convince him the opposite is true.

2) When stuck in a scene just look at the other person, and describe what they’re doing – or how they’re feeling/acting.
I really like this. Jon said at the beginning of the class that the hardest thing about improv is getting to the point of realising how easy it is. Over the lesson he kind of proved his point by showing us a game/technique in which both players are only allowed to speak in a certain way – you can only describe (endow) the other player, or repeat what they said. It’s great and Jon guarantees it’ll get you out of every situation. Guarantees. yup.

Here’s a long winded example:

The first player, I’ll call her Leah, will look at the second player, John, and say something about him. What ever – anything. Literally anything they see. So Leah might say something like:

“You’re wearing a blue shirt”


“You look nervous”


“You look angry”

As long as it starts with the word “you”.

Next the second person in the scene, John, will then reply with the same thing as what Leah said, but about himself, so John will reply:

“I’m wearing a blue shirt”
“I am nervous”
“I am angry”

Note, John changed the “You” to an “I” and dropped the “look” (you’d also from words like “seem” and “feel”).

The two just repeat the opening like over and over again using different inflections to convey emotion and tell some kind of story.  Leah keeps saying “You are nervous” and John keeps saying “I am nervous”.

It’s actually surprising how much meat you can get off that bone BUT THERE’S MORE!

The next part of the game/technique is that whoever is saying “I am”, so in this case, John, is allowed to change it up whenever he wants but he has to say something about the other character, so a sentence starting with “You are….”. then Leah will have to say what ever John said, but about herself (i.e. changing the “you” to an “I”).