The Improv Diaries- Part 27 – Angus Deayton

This week in lessons we had Bev for the first time in ages which was really nice. This week was all about developing about what we were learning last week about endowment and creating a scene by focussing on these traits.

This week we played a new game that Bev had only tried for the first time in Advanced last week that was actually really helpful and fun to play. We were each given a sticker that was put on us that we couldn’t see and each of them had a personality trait on them that the other person in the scene would have to endow so that we could get it. At first I wasn’t sure how it would play out and if it would be easy to do but from actually doing the exercise you started to realise it is actually a really fun way to think of how to enter a scene.

The first scene I did was with Emma I didn’t know what i had but saw that I was coming into the scene with a child  (that was what her trait was). Bev said always think about where you have come from when entering a scene so i thought a gym would be a good idea because I could become physical with it which actually funnily enough went well with the scene and the character trait i had been given. From the subtle clues that Emma was giving me I worked out that my trait was being drunk so i started to play with this idea. Even though you cannot be 100% sure of what you are in a scene it actually can be fun to just go with it as even if you are wrong the audience will find it funny. An example of this is the first pair that tried it, Cat and Ian. Cat couldn’t work out that she was  religious however, the questions and way she was reacting in the scene went very well and actually worked really well.

The second time we did it I was in a scene with Zoe who was playing an old lady. With the endowments that she was giving me in the scene she was leading me to believe I was one of three things with my personality trait – married, pregnant or a really nice person. Bev paused the scene and told us that if you know what you are act on it even if you are not 100% sure on the exact trait do something. I decided to go with the trait of pregnant and pretended my water broke which made the scene change direction and lead to a good way to finish the scene.

The next part of the lesson was to do the scenes without the stickers. I didn’t participate in this game because I was having too much enjoyment watching and also i was starting to feel very tried from a really busy day at work and not feeling great because of an ear infection. It was great to watch as they all still naturally worked really well and from doing the prior exercise each of the scene work was really lifted compared to what we have done in the past.

In one of the scenes that developed, Amy was working as an intern at a fashion designers and the scene developed that lots of small parts came in to emphasis the character that Amy as playing. Bev made a very interesting point that i felt would be a good thing to look at in this weeks case study. She discussed that the small parts in a scene like a butler or the shopkeeper are the passengers on the train that keep the scene going and react to whats happening around them. Its a strong dynamic of all comedy shows there is always people in the background with minor roles that make the comedy clear as to what is happening around them – this makes the actions of the main character more funny.

Case Study – Angus Deayton

When thinking about case studies this week there was only one name that came to mind and that was Angus Deyton as there are so many examples of him playing the minor role to emphasise the comedy that is happening in a scene. Angus Deyton plays a lot of small roles in both Mr Bean and also Rowan Atkinsons stand up shows and it really does create a lot of the comedy if you look at certain scenes.

The wonder of Mr Bean and the thing that is most fascinating is that it is a show that is all about one character that doesn’t have hardly any dialogue and it is the people in the smaller roles and background that really project the comedy in this show as they are the reaction to what is happening around them. Just take the swimming pool clips above, it starts with a normal visit to the swimming pool and Mr Bean seeing a mini slide that he wants to have a go on and think it will be fine to go down. Then this minor role, the lifeguard comes out of nowhere and as soon as Bean goes to slide down the whistle is blown creating the humour that we all know and love. Without the whistle or the minor character there would of been no comedy as such just a man going down a slide that is for children but this lifeguard character makes him metaphorically put him on the naughty step of a child and even though he climbs back up the slide he runs away from that pool in a child like manor.

It is the same with the comedy tours that Rowan did with Angus as well, he always played the bit part so that he always had someone there to react to what he was doing. The video just above is of one of his sketches in a church that ended up making its way into the first episode of Mr Bean. However, this would of not been as successful if he did not have a minor character there to play off to.

Another way that Angus way was used in the stand up shows was by being the narrative. This in some cases would be seen as a big part however with Rowan Atkinson and his physical humour it is seen as as only a minor because the audience always focus on him. I feel these are all great things to consider and look at when doing improv comedy as again, it brings another level to the scenes that you are creating out of the games and could take it to a completely different level.



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