THIS IS A SERIES BY DAVID ESCOBEDO THAT OFFERS A SIMPLIFIED PERSPECTIVE ON THREE BASIC OR SMALL ELEMENTS OF IMPROV. THERE ARE SURELY WAYS TO DECONSTRUCT AND FIND EXCEPTIONS. IT WOULD BE HARD TO FIND ANYTHING IN IMPROV THAT OPERATES UNIVERSALLY. THESE ARE OFFERED AS ONE PERSPECTIVE THAT MAY HELP SOME PEOPLE, AND ARE JUST TIPS OF THE ICEBERG WHEN IT COMES TO THE CONCEPTS.
Silence is not something to be feared.
THE WORST CHOICE IS APATHY*
Make a choice. Sure there are better choices. But the one choice that is always wrong is apathy. It’s a non-choice, typically made out of fear from “looking silly” or failing.
A burger is funny.
A burger from Five Guys with extra pickles is better.
A burger from Five Guys with extra pickles but the person preparing it stuck their thumb in it so it has a hole in the bun, is even better.
My second burger from the Five Guys in London, not the one by the Piccadilly stop the one over by Kings Cross, with the extra pickles but when Randolph Morgan stuck his thumb in it so it has a hole in the bun between sesame seed #78 and #81, is even better.
It is more evocative, and gives your scene partner more to play with.
The skill is how do you express specifics without steamrolling the scene? Word economics + some of those details you keep in your head. These specifics inform your character’s motives and reactions as well.
*Actually the worst choice is hurting your scene partner or making a choice that puts them in an uncomfortable spot.