6 Simple Steps To Make Your Improv Awful!

In last week’s blog we covered six steps you can use to make your improv great 😀

This week we will be covering six steps you can use to make your improv absolutely god awful 🙁

The steps we are about to go over are things that every improviser has done before, but has learned to avoid. So, if you are looking to be straight up awful and perform heinously cringeworthy improv then you’ve come to the right place.

Let’s jump right into it, shall we?

1.) Just Say “No”

Just say “no” was an expression used back in the 80’s-90’s to remind kids to stay away from drugs. Former First Lady, Nancy Reagan, coined this phrase for the DARE(Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program. In that context it obviously makes sense.

But in improv “no” is a scene killer. You are shutting down everything your scene partner is giving you. Information that could provide you with who your are, where you are, what you are doing, etc.

Saying no cuts off all creativity and spontaneity from your improv. We want it to be unique and move toward the unexpected.

When you say no you are putting up a wall around yourself leaving your audience with no other choice but to check out. It’s a great way to make your improv unwatchable!

2.) Don’t make choices

You can say yes and agree with your scene partner, but if you make zero character choices and/or avoid specificity then get ready for some boring improv.

Not making a specific choice is like painting a white canvas with white paint.

A. Who (basic character type)

Instead of choosing what kind of character to play or physicalizing them then your improv will be very pedestrian. You could have an opinion on others, but why give yourself something to work with.

People want to see characters that are unique and interesting. Unless of course you are more interested in playing dull and uncreative people.

B. Where (setting)

If you do not bother to create a location for your scene then guess what? You won’t know where you are! Oh sure, you may have a place in your mind, but if you do not engage your environment physically and show us then we have no idea where the heck you are.

And by all means, talk about where you are. It’s a sure fire way to frustrate your audience because we can hear that you are at this location, but we can not see it. Hey, visualization is overrated anyways.

So instead of making a choice to work at a Starbucks making Mochachinos, you can just work at a generic coffee shop with no name and make nothing. Best worst choices ever!

C. What (conflict or the game)

Why bother? It’s what drives your improv and helps create wants and relationship, and really who wants that?

Best way to stay away from conflict is to not play along. Avoid what your scene partner establishes, how you would react to what they are doing, and how they react to you.

Almost forgot, be sure to yell at your scene partner all the time. Like throughout the entire scene. Not only does this not create the conflict we want, but it also make your improv uncomfortable to watch.

Overall lesson, “never be specific”!

3.) Do Not Take Risk

Just stay in your comfort zone. Never venture out into the unknown. Play it safe. Make safe choices. Not anything exciting or out of the ordinary.

Do not give yourself the freedom to fail. If you do, interesting things will happen like making new discoveries and spontaneous moments of comedy. And that would be too much fun for an improv audience to witness.

So stay on the risk-free shore, and avoid swimming out into the of the vast ocean of greatness.

4.) Let nothing affect you

Here’s a not-so-fun scenario to play:

“If your character works in a ice cream parlor, and your coworker congratulates you on being promoted manager just make the choice to have no reaction.”

Wow! Now that’s what I call bad! Had your character reacted with happiness or fear or paranoia then you would have given them an emotional life. Instead pick a character with the emotional life of a blank piece of paper. Because why allow yourself to be affected by things that in turn could affect your scene partner or audience positively.

5.) Physicalize

Stand still. Hands in pocket. Don’t make any physical character choices like limping or walking like a family member. Never engage your environment. Plant your feet into the ground as if you are a human oak tree. Don’t…move…an…inch.

Any sort of physicalization in improv is a great way to make it incredibly engaging.

No!!!! Just sit in a chair. It’ll all be over soon.

6.) Do not have fun!!!

If an improviser is having fun with what they are doing then the audience with have fun as well.

Lame, right? Fun is for babies and cool people.

Avoid having fun and you will be as uncool as a tool. What kind of tool? I don’t know. It’s just a tool. You figure it out for me.

There are several ways to make your improv unbearable to watch. Just follow any of these step and you will be on your way to being a truly awful improviser.

OR if you want to be a great and hilarious improviser then do the opposite of everything on this list. Trust me, I learned it the hard way.

Feel free to let us know what you think by leaving a comment below 🙂


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