Improv Corner – Improv In The Media – 3rd Rock From The Sun

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 am currently re-watching old comedies that I remember watching the odd episodes from my childhood but have never seen them the whole way through. The show I am currently watching is 3rd Rock From The Sun. It is a show that whilst it is funny and the acting is great, the story lines and topics are incredibly outdated and can cause offence in modern day society and to be honest I am surprised they didn’t in the nineties! I didn’t think it would be a show that I would discuss when it came to improv but there is a section that is so clever I feel that it needs to be discussed as it is key to a skill in improv.

In Season 2 Episode 2 there is a storyline where one of the main characters Dick Soloman is stuck in an invisible box – it doesn’t really matter why he is because all we are focussing on is the invisible box. Throughout the first part of the episode, all the main members of the cast interact with the invisible box like running into it and hitting it and trying to escape it. I thought it was such a great example of object work I could not ignore it, no matter what your opinions on the said show are. If you want to watch this it is available on Channel 4 if you want to see what I am talking about.

Object work is such an important part of improv as it paints the world and environment around you. If you interact with an object you believe is there, it builds up the world that you are a part of and looks really impressive to the audience that are watching. Want to up the object game – then get more then one of your players to interact with the same object!

This is why the 3rd Rock scene works so well because all of the actors believe that the object is there and keep building up the drama on the object to show just how tough this invisible shape is and how integral it is to make the comedy. The way that they interact with the invisible box is hilarious as it shows just how much an object can make a scene and it is something you should consider focussing on in rehearsals and shows.

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