The Improv Diaries – part 23 – One Liners

Last week in improv, we focussed on developing stories and characters by action and one liners. We started off the practise like any other, playing a few games to warm up and get used to working with one another which then lead to the first style of development today – storytelling and actions.

We were put into pairs and had to think fast and act out whatever Ian said (a little bit like the corrugated iron game we played a few weeks ago with the other Suggestible, Tom). Once we had done this in pairs for a while we were put into fours to then create a scene which he had suggested such as Shopping or The Beach etc.

The next type of game we did was we all started doing the same action and then from that someone would see an action that would remind them of a different scene altogether and then they would develop on that  and everyone would build the scene from that suggestion. So you could be in a zoo pretending to be gorillas and then someone will notice it looks like dancing and everyone will follow suit.

From this the lesson then progressed to storytelling and create actions to go with the story. The group was split into two groups and one person in each group had to be a storyteller (i was the one on my team) and you had to create a story on the spot that the others would act out what you are saying and go along with it even when it gets to be really silly.

From doing this it demonstrated that you don’t need loads to build a really strong scene. So what we did next was create a theatre setting and start putting simple but strong elements to a scene. We would go up in pairs and be told not to say anything and just to stand there and the group would decide what the scene would be with the body language that the couple were doing on the stage. From simple movements a story would unravel and then one word was introduced. The next style we did after this was we were only allowed to say one word or sentence throughout the whole scene – like you get with some good comedians and also in sitcoms. From being limited to having only a few words to say really created scenes with strong impacts and created some very funny scenes.

Case Study – TV Catchphrases

This weeks lesson reminded me of sitcoms in the UK and USA that have really famous catchphrases and that the most effective ones are the ones with less words to them. By limiting the amount of words that we have in scene is great for development because it shows you that as an improviser when you are on stage its not about the amount of blurb that comes out of your mouth to create something powerful and funny it can be something as simple as one word or a look / physical action. From Looking at the top 50 catchphrases in television shows, I have chosen good ones that had the same impact on me when I initially heard them.

Yeah but no but yeah but – Little Britain

Am I bovvered? – Catherine Tate Show

No no no no no no yes – The Vicar of Dibley

You havin’ a laugh – Extras

and here is a video with 100 more with loads more great catchphrases!


I felt this was a good case study for this topic as some of the sentences and words being used in last weeks lesson could easily be used in the scripts of a good sitcom.


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