How to Organically grow an Improv Scene

Screen shot 2011-11-10 at 2.05.28 PM

Improv Scene performed by Team X: A man had shipped his wife a dress. She hadn’t taken it out of the box yet so he asked “Why is it still in the box?”

“I’m clumsy, and was afraid I’d rip it," she said. She took it out of the box, tripped and it ripped.

Cut to two days ago at the store

Shopkeep: The dress is very fragile. Be careful with it. 9 children died in making it.

Cut back

The husband screamed, ”9 children died for that.“ During a back and forth she manages to rip it again.

Cut back

Shopkeep: Of course money isn’t enough if you want to buy a dress like this. The shopkeep starts to unzip his pants.

Cut back

Husband: I was surprised. I kind of liked it.

Before the scene could go on further about felatio it was edited with a shout, "Kids, get in here."

Everyone got on stage and the father said, "Now we’re going to make this married couple a beautiful dress. I don’t care what it takes. How hard it is."

The kids all chimed in with complaints.

"If one of you or all of you have to die so this dress can be made perfect, so be it." It was meant as a one off joke, and the scene could have returned back to the couple's scene with a nice laugh. Instead, one of the kids walked up and said, "I don’t want to make the dress."

The father exploded. “How dare you.”

“It’s just, I want to be an accountant.”

“But what does that have to do with a wedding?”

“Well, so the bride and groom know what to do with their finances.”

“Of course, of course.” The father hugged the kid, “Go, run off, and be an accountant.”

All of the kids said they also wanted to be accountants and the father hushed them.

“We have a dress to make. I don’t want to hear any of that.”

Another kid got up. “I want a dress like this when I get married,” she said.

The father misheard her and responded, “You’re getting married? Well, you shouldn’t be here- go ahead and run off.”

It established a game of how do the kids manage to run off, and one by one each of the 6 kids came up with a reason and got to run off, until only one was left.

What made the scene great was how it pushed past the one off joke and found a brilliant, simple game. The kid’s game was, ‘What can I say that gets me away from my crazy father?’ and the father’s was, ‘How can I relate their choice to a wedding so I can let them run off?’

The lesson is to let a scene grow, and not come in with some absurd idea. If the scene had started with “Get in here kids. We’re going to make this dress, and I don’t care if all of you die in the process. That is, unless you prove to me why you’re too important for this,” it would have fallen flat. Instead, it earned its absurdity by growing one step at a time.

Humor, ImprovJeremy Shuback