This may sound like the most simplest part of any improv shows but it also can be the most toughest part. I have been to many shows where the acts haven’t explained the concept at the top that when they are performing you can not understand what is happening. So today, I would just like to write a few bullet points to highlight things you can do when you do any sort of show, no matter whether your set is short or long.
Introduce your team mates
Even if you are doing a short set, make time and the effort to introduce your team. It doesn’t matter if the audience do not remember the names it is the personal touch that is really nice. Also, it makes the players on stage feel like they are being praised and noticed for the work that they are doing on stage. Having the players introduced also creates a sort of warm and polite welcome into your world that the audience enjoy. You don’t go to the Comedy Store and then watch players like Josie Lawrence without their name being introduced, always make the effort to make everyone feel welcomed.
Explain your concept
I have seen so many acts that go on stage and expect the audience to know what they are going to see. It doesn’t matter whether your audience is made up of professional improvisers or members of the public if you have a concept that is different, unique or obscure it may be hard to understand without an explanation. If you don’t explain how can you expect the audience to really jump on board? It may be the most obvious idea but it is always good to explain.
Treat your audience like ‘aliens’
Ok, this sounds like a really random phrase but it reminds me of an exercise we did in school where we were asked how we would explain how to make a cup of tea to an alien from outer space. This is sort of an extension to the bullet point above.
It is really important to explain or sort of give a synopsis to the type of scene that you are going to do because you don’t know if your audiences have ever seen improv before. Also, if your concept is quite complex even the most brief or simple explanation at the top can really create a a strong understanding of what they are going to see. This is also the same on the online shows as well, either write it in the description and point people there or introduce it at the top.
Ask for an Introduction
If for some reason you don’t want to talk at the beginning of your set then talk to the host before the show (even via email if online) and write a mini introduction or discuss what you want them to say when they welcome you on stage / into the limelight. It does the same effect as above without effecting your theme or scene if you have one.