We’ve all been there, novice and professional alike. We’re in a scene and we draw a blank. We don’t know where to go or we’re thinking about our own next move. The scene fails.
The good news is failure is important to improv. Great improv comes from failure. Sometimes we find out what doesn’t work and it’s a learning experience. Sometimes we find comedy gold.
In order to jump start the scene again, let’s take a look at four ways we can stop ourselves from overthinking it.
- Proclaim “I have a confession to make.” This is a way for you and your partner to listen to each other’s every word in the scene. Think about it: if your best friend said, “Kevin, I have a confession to make,” don’t you think you’d lean in an be super invested in what they had to say? I think so, assuming your name is Kevin.
- Establish scenery/do object work. Think about where you are in the scene. A grocery store? A hotel room? Your grandmother’s kitchen? Wherever that place is, find something in the environment you’ve been given and pick it up! It will force you to be present in the scene and become more invested in what’s happening. It’s okay to take things slow and establish what you’re doing so your partner can see. What feels like a minute onstage is a second to the audience.
- Look your partner in the eye, always. Eye contact is SUPER important in any scene. Check in with your partner, make sure to see what they’re doing and make sure they see you. If you’re talking and not looking at each other, try turning toward them and looking them in the eye. The answer lies in the eyes of your partner. Also, it’ll make you feel like you’re not alone in the universe you’re creating together.
- Tell your partner, “You make me feel…” This is a big one. You’re opening up to them. You’re taking it back to the relationship. Don’t ever be afraid to take it back to the top of scene. What that means is, don’t forget where you started because it will tell you where you need to end up. If you’ve established that you’re co-workers and one of you got the promotion over the other, maybe you feel resentment. Or maybe you’re happy for them but feel like you’ve been left behind. It’s okay (actually, it’s encouraged) to remember why you’re in this relationship onstage and why the audience is watching the scene in the first place. It’s not about the office, it’s about the people we see working.
Remember to always have the focus on your partner. Remember to listen and be present. The audience would love to see what happens between people, Kevin.