Improv Training Resources

Skills

What are some important improv skills? Take a look at these AMAZING training videos to learn about the skills of:

•Making and Accepting Offers •Advancing the Scene •Listening

•Commitment •Stakes •Staging

FUN FACT: These are also the categories you will be judged on at tournaments! So..... important!

Vocabulary

Want to sound like a real improviser? Make sure you're familliar with the following common terms and expressions:

Accepting: Embracing the offers made by other performers in order to advance the scene.

Advancing: The process of moving the scene forward.

Ask-For: A question asked of the audience in order to receive suggestions to improvise a scene.

Beat: A unit of action in a scene. A scene is made up of a series of beats.

Blocking: Rejecting the ideas or offers of another player. One of the most common problems experienced by new improvisers.

Breaking the Routine: Interrupting an action with another action in order to advance the scene.

Cancelling: Making a previous action irrelevant. Once an action has been cancelled, it’s as if it hadn’t

happened at all.

CIG : Canadian Improv Games.

Commenting: Stepping out of the reality of the scene by saying or doing something that refers to the fact that it’s a scene being played. Also refers to playing an emotion rather than feeling it.

Complimentary Offer: An offer that meshes well with what’s already gone before (and usually enhances it in some

way).

Complimentary Character: A character added to a scene that creates a status shift, or a difference in perspective between characters.

Conflict: Many (but not all!) scenes are about a conflict of some sort. If there’s no conflict, the scene may still be truthful but somewhat dull.

Crossover (or Walk-through): The act of entering a scene, making a strong offer that advances the scene, and then exiting. Use sparingly.

Driving: Taking over a scene and not letting other performers influence its direction. Makes you an

unpopular improviser.

Endowing: Assigning attributes to another performer’s character.

Extending: Taking an idea and letting it become the central theme of the scene.

Game: A combination of (normally predetermined) rules or conventions that are used as a framework within which to improvise.

Joining: Adding a character to a scene who is similar to one already present in the scene.

Justification: The act of making an offer make sense within the scene.

Mugging: Making silly faces instead of reacting truthfully. Generally frowned upon.

Marrying: The combination of two suggestions.

Narrative: The story told by a scene. Scenes should have a clear beginning, middle and end.

Objective: What a character wants to achieve in a scene.

Offer: Any dialogue or action that advances the scene. Offers should be accepted.

Official: A person chosen by a Tournament Director to act as a referee, timekeeper or linesperson at a Tournament.

Physicalization: Turning intent into action and movement.

Platform: The Who, What and Where of a scene. The success of a scene often depends on having a solid platform.

Raising the Stakes: Making the events of the scene have greater consequences for the characters. A technique for advancing.

Reincorporating: Revisiting an idea from earlier in the scene, or from a previous scene in the show, or even from a previous performance.

Setup (Plant, Pitch, Ask For): Explaining the handle of the scene to the audience before the scene starts. Also involves doing an ask-for. The performer who does the setup usually doesn’t start on stage in the scene.

Shelving: Acknowledging an offer but not doing anything with it.

Status: A character’s sense of self-worth and power within a scene. Many scenes are built around

status relationships. Physical environments and objects also have status.

Structure: The collection of ask-fors and restrictions used to create a platform from which to improvise. (See Game.)

Suggestions: The raw material provided by the audience from which the improvisers create.

Talking Heads: A scene that involves a lot of standing (or worse yet, sitting) around talking rather than engaging in physical action.

Waffling: Failing to make decisions. Talking about what you’re going to do instead of doing it.

Wimping: Accepting an offer but failing to act on it; refusing to advance the scene by not giving offers for Who, What and Where