“…Echoes of you echoes of you
Repeating from the beating of your tell-tale heart…”
When you are part of an improv troupe you tend to do quite a few shows that sometimes it means that it can be easy to fall into the routine of using the same style of characters as you know that they will create the laughs. It becomes and easy option and you metaphorically become an echo of yourself. However this may be the easy option it can also be the most boring option as well. The one thing you need to think about as well is just how many people in the audience have seen you before. You do not want to be a one trick pony.
Even though it can be difficult, you shouldn’t try to be a repetition or a cliche of yourself on stage. The great thing about improv is that it is all made up and audiences expect something different everytime. Not to the limit that they will be angry if you bring someone back but you get the point.
If you have a good character in one show it is easy to remember and bring them to life – sometimes that is great as people like to be remembered of things but also it is a bad thing too and isn’t something you should not get into a habit of.
When I am on stage for example one of my go to characters to use is of an evil doctor who is planning on taking over the world in weird and wonderful ways. I think the idea originally comes from thinking of Pinky and the Brain and Animaniacs a lot when I was a kid it just comes to mind all the time. I always turn to my evil comedy character when I want to heighten a scene.
I did two shows in the same week a while ago and brought this evil Doctor comedic character into both sets because I knew it would get laughs and also one of the shows needed more energy and I felt it was an easy option. I wish I hadn’t echoed myself but I felt at the time it was a safe way of guaranteed laughs and that is a bad thing to do.
There are ways to remix and alter your regular characters if you ever want to be something different on stage there are little ways you can do it. It can be really difficult to come up with new character ideas in the moment but here are a few ways you can do it on the spot:
- Choose a body part to lead with – One of the easiest ways of creating a character out of nowhere is to make the decision before you go onto stage what part of your body will lead the character – this automatically throws you into character and can lead what you are in the scene
- All about the emotion dahhling – Another way of creating characters is by deciding what emotion you are going to walk on – this way you can either heighten it throughout or even better try and play the game where you and your scene partner try and swap emotions halfway through.
- Take inspiration from the suggestion – The easiest way to probably create a character on the spot is to listen to the suggestion you are given and create a character for that scenario
- Play to your scene partner – Sometimes playing and reacting to your scene partner can be one of the simplest ways to create a character. Reacting to what they say and do can really be a key way of playing a scene.
So the next time you find yourself in a scene dare to be different and try and not just settle for the same old characters, try and do something new and remember this song and do not be like the chorus and an Echo Of Yourself.