Improv Comedy: Getting to the Emotion

Shortform Improv: Emotion Emotion Emotion

Longform Impov has a great luxury that shortform improv doesn’t have. Time and care can be taken to get to the emotion of the scene. On the other hand, shortform improv doesn’t have 5 to 10 minutes to find the emotion within the scene. In bad shortform, the emotion is simply skipped over for gimmick and/or bits. In good shortform, the exposition is assumed and established, and an emotional drive or punch is brought into the scene by all players involved.

How is this done?

First, the scene needs to be started with a strong emotional relationship. It doesn’t always have to be a husband and wife or parent and child. Co-Workers, friends, neighbors… recently in rehearsal EK and Brandon had a brilliant emotionally changed scene about a hot dog stand operator and his long standing customer.

Second, the tilt, punch or drive, whatever you want to call it, needs to be introduced into the scene. There will be a moment where you will feel the need for something in the scene, this is when you make an emotional statement about the other player(s) that will emotionally charge the other player(s).

Finally, the significance of the emotional change will be determined by the emotional reaction of the other player(s). If the emotional statement is deflected or denied there will be very little emotional impact to the scene, but if the statement is accepted and reacted to in a deep rooted emotional way, then you will draw the audience further into the scene and prepare them for a bigger pay off.

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