I was recently reading the autobiography of Jon Plowman and his journey and adventures of producing great television comedies such as Absolutely Fabulous, The Office and The Vicar of Dibley just to name a few. There was a chapter about the process of getting The League Of Gentlemen commissioned and there was this really interesting quote:
I think this is a really interesting paragraph that really can be transferable to improv. You can have the most craziest characters or locations in a scene and the audience will only believe in it if the players do as well. I have seen many improv shows and the one that have worked best is when all the players understand the world that has been set up and really take it to the extreme. When you see a show and there are a few in the scene not buying it or don’t believe in the world they are in then the ideology collapses.
Unlike sitcom or television comedy though I think you can have fun with this in improv:
- Having someone who will not accept the world in a big way can bring a fun juxtaposition. For this to work the player really has to amp up the emotions to make it work and so that both the audience and the players are in on it as well. It could be a fun game to play.
- A world where characters don’t believe in the world they are in and by the end of the scene everyone fully embraces it could be fun.
Having characters who strongly believe in the world you created means you can have so much fun – it doesn’t matter how obscure your characters are, if you are in this world it is allowed. It is part of your world these are the sort of things that happens.