How does it feel, like?
I recently did a small weekend course with Jason Chin – a cool IO improv guy from Chigaco.
He taught us a bunch of really interesting stuff, but there was one exercise we did that I thought was particularly useful. I don’t know if it has a name, but I’m going to call it “How Does It Feel, Like” (HDIFL).
Now, the purpose of HDIFL is to cut past the leading crap at the beginning of a scene and cut right to the emotions between the two players – Shoot the Grandma, as Steen would say. We did the exercise a lot and Jason really pulled us up on it when we didn’t hit the nail on the head.
To play HDIFL It’s straight forward. Get two lines of people, two people walk to centre stage. Person 1 says a line – anything relatively meaningless will do. The second player has to say how that line makes them feel about the other player. Eg:
“I brought you some cheese”
“That makes me feel happy that you remembered my birthday”
“I have a two camels”
“That makes me feel angry that you don’t care about animal rights like I do”
This is so important, because it sets the stage for some real conflict.
Speaking of conflict. When you choose the “correct” emotions, Jason pointed out that we tend to have a dramatic, real scene. If we choose the wrong emotion, we can have a more comical scene. So for example:
“My grandma is dead” + “That makes me feel sorry for you” = a dramatic scene.
“My grandma is dead” + “LOL that makes me feel happy, let’s do a small dance on her grave” = a comedic scene.
It’s worth noting that Jason recommended that for beginner players, it’s cool to just say how you feel: “That makes me feel sad” or “That makes me feel happy” is okay for a junior player. The important part is being affected. Once we get the it stuck in our heads that we need to be affected, then we can move on to saying the emotion AND showing it. And eventually, we’ll be so good at showing it, we won’t need to say it as well.