If there is one thing that is important in improv – especially in short form improv, then it is the use of emotion. With any sort of improv, you have a very short moment to make a story strong and intriguing for the audience and the use of emotion can be a very powerful thing and is something that you really need to train in. Now, there are many ways to approach emotion – if you are doing a more long form style of improv then the emotion will need to stick to the truth, and make it as realistic as you possibly can because a lot of long form improv is more improvised theatre then comedy.
With short form improv, the emotion needs to be sometimes wacky – not all the time – but people really like it when you amp up the emotion and go over the top, especially if you are doing a game that is all about emotions. Now, this isn’t always all the case, sometimes the best way to do this in front of a crowd is to point out the obvious – now saying that, you can get away with that maybe once but it is not something you can do with every emotion. ( For example – i recently went to the Comedy Store and they were given the emotion something like Disappointed and the comedian went ‘I am so disappointed’ instead of doing the emotion and it got the biggest laugh of the night – however if he did that for every emotion, it would not of got any laughs.)
Now, we have done a lot of emotion based posts as pasts of this feature so I want to talk about one exercise we haven’t discussed so far that can be used to delve into the world of emotion – Colours.
You can use the world of colours as a training exercise to get into the world of emotion. Sit there for a second and think of all the colours that you can. Now, try and associate an emotion with them. See it can be that easy – Colour is a great way to bring emotion to a scene. If you are having problems imagining this then lets give a few examples before moving forward:
Red – Love / Hate / passion
Green – Envy / Jealousy
Yellow – Joy / Happiness
Blue – Sad / feeling blue / depressed
The idea of using colours is that you can do this two ways – you can do a scene where you give each member a colour that they have to make their characters emotion and then play out a scene with only those two emotions to see what happens. The other way you can do it, is in the style of a rollercoaster style game where you freeze the game and you give both players the same colour to see how they react to the emotion – because all colours tend to have more then one emotion adjoined to it – it could bring out some funny results.
Why not give it a try!