TheaterMania U

Improv Tips and Tactics!

Venkatesh Potula describes the rehearsal process for UCLA’s Rapid-Fire Improv group.

I am part of UCLA’s first improv group, called “Rapid-Fire Improv.” Being a part of Rapid-Fire has helped me (and will possibly help you) become a stronger performer because improv teaches you to think on your feet and to not judge your own work, however bad, or unfunny, you may think you are.

Here’s a description of our two-hour rehearsal process:

1. Warm-up exercises
2. Select various Improv games that work on basic technique and skill: Location, Relationship, and Conflict etc.
3. Self-critique on the game from Rapid-Fire members
4. Repeat game with critique in mind
5. Move onto next game focusing on different skill
6. Repeat steps 2-5 until time runs out!

Through this process, we are able to hone in on difficulties that Rapid-Fire has, while still being thoroughly entertained. Although every rehearsal is different, I will attempt to give a more detailed idea of a warm-up game we might play and how it helps before a performance. Because Improv requires extreme amounts of high energy, we like to warm up with a game that gets us pumped for the rehearsal or show!

In the warm-up, “3 Things!”, the group gets in a circle and someone starts by looking to the person to their right and asks them to name three random things in correlation to a random subject. For example, Ryan says to Sally, “Sally! Name three things you would do in the sky!”

Sally would then randomly think of three things she would do, and the group would yell one, two, and three while swinging their arms over their heads in between Sally’s replies as such:

Group: “ONE!”
Sally: “Fly!”
Group: “TWO!”
Sally: “Eat Pancakes!”
Group: “THREE!”
Sally: “Kickboxing!”

The Group then yells, “THREE THINGS!” and Sally would look at the person to her right, Damien, and thus the warm-up continues…

Although this warm-up may be silly, it focuses on getting any nervous tension out of the actor’s body, which usually is always present before a performance. It also gets the actors in the mindset of thinking on their feet and going with what their instinct tells them to say rather than what the actor thinks is funny to say.

TIP: In most improv, an actor will try to be funny in the things he/she says. This kills the performance and is not funny. It’s just annoying. Try and speak from what your gut feeling says rather than what your head tells you to say. Trust Yourself.

Finally, “3 Things!” is a great game that gets the energy of the group elevated, which always helps in creating a fun improv show!

If you have any question about “3 Things!” or want more information on Rapid-Fire (show dates, booking opportunities, pictures) just visit our facebook page by clicking here.

Or, if you just want to know how to play more games, feel free to contact me. I’m always willing to spread the love of Improv!