I'll start with some bits that I think apply to doing standup too...
- Whatever scares you, do it.
- Specificity is our friend. Add it.
- Establish and repeat. Hit the same note a couple of times.
- Heighten: Have the stakes get higher and higher, keep one upping.
- Honesty is our safety net. We can never go wrong if we speak how we honestly feel at the time.
- Whatever you feel uncomfortable doing is exactly what you should try doing.
- When in doubt, confess. "I think I have a problem." "I need to tell you something." Etc.
- Go from A to C. Leaving the B out is often the interesting part because it lets the audience's brains make the connection.
- First laugh line is often the audience telling you where the game of the scene is.
- Give the audience relief by calling out the truth ("Phew, it's not just me.")
- Be ahead of the audience. If you just thought of it, go for it. If they already know where you're going, you've lost.
And some other notes that are more improv-y...
- The game is the central pattern of the scene. It's based on the first unusual thing that happens.
- Scene rules: Don't ask questions (answer them instead), don't deny the other person (build together), "Yes and...", avoid transaction/negotiation scenes (conduct the transaction and go), avoid teaching scenes, keep things active (show don't tell).
- The audience has a memory like a rat. They only pay attention to what's shiny and new. They'll forget whatever happened 30 seconds earlier.
- Give reason(s) why for the game/action of the scene.
- Characters can disagree as long as you move the scene forward. If you deny, add information.
- Make future choices based on your first choice.
- Get out who, what, where early on.
- Ways to edit a scene: Add sound effects, be an inanimate object, swinging door, tag outs.
- Rules for editing a scene: 1. Edit at the peak. 2. Edit, don't comment. 3. Edit hard. 4. Late in the scene, if you want to walk on, edit.
- "If you think you should edit a scene, you probably should have done it 10 seconds ago" -Amy Poehler
- Answer "Why do I care?"
- 2nd beat of the scene #1: time dashes = same characters at diff time in their lives.
- 2nd beat of the scene #2: analogous situation = diff characters in similar situation.
- 2nd beat should heighten scene.
- If you come in with a premise, you have to be willing to drop it. Don't steamroll your idea into the scene.
Lessons from Improv 101 at UCB [Sandpaper Suit]
Interview excerpts about the game of the scene [ITC Notebook]