In this workshop, our goal is to practice improvising short funny comedy scenes.
To do that, we will learn to play “The Game” of the scene - it is a structured, step-by-step approach improvisers use to create comedy. Below you’ll see the explanation of the key concepts you need to understand to play The Game, and a list of exercises we’ll practice during our workshop.
Come join our Discord Community to play with us.
The Game is a single comedic idea the scene is focused on, the core premise that summarizes what’s funny about the scene in one sentence. It is a pattern of unusual behavior, justified in a believable way, which we will gradually heighten to make the scene progressively more absurd.
In this exercise we’ll learn to establish the “Base Reality”, the key elements necessary for any scene:
In this section we’ll practice discovering what’s funny about the scene and agreeing on it.
Our goal is to come up with The Game - a pattern of unusual behavior. The Unusual Thing is the first element in your scene that breaks from the expectations set by the Base Reality. The Unusual Thing introduces the absurd behavior or a piece of information, and the rest of the scene will be focused on heightening and exploring this absurdity (we won’t introduce more random unrelated absurd ideas).
The purpose of justifying the unusual thing is to support the reality of the scene, to make the absurd believable. Our goal is to provide some logic, philosophy, rationale that justifies the absurd behavior, explains why the character is making absurd choices.
We use Heightening to build on the First Unusual Thing, to turn it into a pattern of increasingly unusual behavior (The Game). Each heightened game move deviates further away from the expected pattern of reality, we repeatedly hit the comedic idea, making the scene progressively more absurd.
In this exercise, we will combine all the skills we have practiced to improvise comedy scenes. Two Players improvise a short (3-5 minute) scene using all the principles we have learned
To summarize, our scene should have a repeated pattern of unusual behavior (the game). Every time we revisit the unusual thing, it should get more exaggerated (heightening), and every moment in between should ground it in reality (justifying).
Typical scene structure looks like this:
- The Basics #1: What Is A Sketch and How Does It Work?
- The Basics #2: Surprising Truth
- The Basics #3: Where Do You Get Your Ideas?
- The Basics #4: Brainstorming and outlining
- The Basics #5: Turning a Blank Page into a Rough Draft
- Dissecting "Philosophical Truth or Dare" (excellent sketch example)
- What Makes Improv Funny?
- UCB – The Game
- A quick guide to Game of the Scene
- UCB Manual (audio version) - the ultimate, book-length explanation of improv comedy that delves deep into what “The Game” is, how to find and play it.
- Step by Step to Stand-up Comedy (audio version) - an excellent book about joke writing.
- Guidelines on initiating the scenes.