Just finished reading Truth in Comedy by Charna Halpern, Del Close and Kim "Howard" Johnson while at the same time taking an eight week improv class from The Torch Theatre. The two of them complemented each other perfectly.
Here are my take-aways from the book:
- Don't tell jokes, just be honest, there's nothing funnier than the truth.
- Take the scene seriously.
- Always agree, this is the only rule that cannot be broken. i.e. Yes, and... Accept and build
- Don't try and force connections, they'll happen naturally.
- There are no bad ideas.
- There are no mistakes
- Make your fellow players look good.
- Respect choices made by others.
- Don't ask questions, instead, make assumptions.
- Listen for the whole idea and remember what has been said. Don't try and think ahead when someone is speaking, instead listen carefully to them. i.e. avoid preconceived notions.
- Follow the unexpected twist. i.e. pick up the exciting/different/unusual/active part of what's been given to you and go down that path.
- Avoid exposition, the audience can invent their own past to a scene.
- Be specific and avoid generalities. Don't be the Vague Man.
- Welcome silences, allow this as time for thought.
- Reflect the other person's ideas.
- Find your purpose in each game and be it.
My biggest problem is asking too many questions. I always want to ask a question to the other players which puts them on the spot to come up with an answer. This is what I'm currently working on to improve.