There is one thing that fascinates me about improv and that is how it is portrayed in Television and Film. This is becoming more and more apparent in recent years because the comedy art form is sort of in fashion. There are some interesting topics that we can gain from these ways they are displayed so every so often we are going to look at different scenes from different shows and films.
I was flicking through catch up on Sky Go the other night and went to Comedy Gold and came across the stage versions of the British Sitcom Bottom. Now I used to really like this show, as I have stated loads of time before on this blog, I am a big fan of Rik Mayall. This show was always mainly about the violence and how much Rik and Ade Edmonsen can beat the crap out of each other. However the live version had some interesting concepts that relate to improv.
I didn’t watch all of the show but I watched the first 20 minutes of the stage show they did called Bottom Live 3 – Hooligan Island and this was enough to make a very strong point that is relative to what we learnt this week and how to build a scene. In the part of the show that I watched, there is only Eddie and Richard on the island and because there is only two of them the most important part is setting up the scenes and working together to create great comedy. Now, whilst a lot of this is scripted and already prepared it does not mean that it is a bad case study.. why? because there is only two of them and the way that they work together to produce a comedy which doesn’t need anyone else to fill the scene is pretty magical and makes Ade and Rik fantastic comedy actors.
When the opening happens it is Rich on his own for a good while trying to find where Eddie has got to. To build up the scene he has to interact with the scene around him and really build up the impact. He uses the scene and to really build up a scenario and really interacts with his surroundings. This is so important in Improv to do this as it is a vital key to get to the audience to understand where you are and also so that other improvisers also understand where you are in the scene.
Building up a scene can be quite a difficult thing to do but if you break it down and think of it in a more simple way you realise it is actually not that hard to do.
Painting the scene – Something that you can do when you enter the stage is try and paint the scene, think about the objects that are surrounding you and how you want the world around you to look. The wonders of improv is whatever you do on stage is true so the audience will paint the scene with their eyes with you.
Character Choice – The decision of the character you make can also help paint the scene, it can create the mood of the scene, the theme of the scene and even the comedy.
Your Scene Partner – Also it is important to highlight it is not always up to you to make all the first choices it is a team effort and they have a part to play as well.