I had the chance to attend an improv lecture/workshop with UCB founder Matt Besser this Sunday at the UCB theater in Chelsea. He favored a socratic style, peppering the audience with questions about what makes for good improv. He was extremely insightful and unsparing. I salute the brave souls who agreed to take the stage to perform some sample improv for Besser to dissect. Here is what I learned:
Start out being as logical as possible.
“Yes-and” ONLY until you find the UNUSUAL thing. THEN ask, “if this unusual thing is true, then what else is true.”
“PLAYING AT THE TOP OF YOUR INTELLIGENCE” means you should react the way a real person would react. It is not about smarts so much as
The funny thing that you pick to start a scene with is your PREMISE.
You don’t have a GAME until your scene partner interacts with you
LISTEN to each other . React accordingly.
HEIGHTENING is not about raising stakes. It’s “What’s another great place to play this game.” In other words, find what’s funny and make it funnier.
EXPLORING helps you answer why you are doing the unusual thing. (I took this to mean you are exploring to find your justification?)