If something is worth doing on stage, it's worth doing right - make a difference, make a commitment, make a statement, make a bold choice.
There are lots of things that can make or break how well an improv show goes. Here are some things to think about. (NOTE: this post focuses mostly on short form shows.)
The Name of the Show
Do you have a type of show that happens pretty regularly, and needs a unifying name? Are your shows few and far between, and each have a unique sense to them? How you schedule and perform your shows has some bearing on how you name your shows. If your show title has a theme (or, shall we say, endows your show with a theme), what is it in the show that reflects that theme - the types of games, performer costumes, intro and outro music? Consider whether you want your names to be "throw-away" or have some integration into the performance.
The Host of the Show
One of the most important jobs in an improv show is often the one that's not tied to playing games. Having an effective host keeps the show moving along, allows for effective and efficient audience participation, and can help to end or save southbound scenes. Not necessarily every improviser can act as the host. The host requires a good knowledge of how every game works, but that can also introduce the games in a manner that's easy for the audience to understand. They also have to be able to command the audience - go to the audience for suggestions, and then shut them up when one is found.
It's possible to have multiple improvisers serve as host, by trading off duties as the games change. Multiple hosts must have a report that allows them to easily play off of one another, and to jump in and keep the show moving. They must be organized to the point where they know exactly which games each one is hosting and when they happen in the show.
The Flow of the Show
As you put together your list of games for a show, keep in mind that the types of games and even their order can dictate the pace of the show. Starting out each act with a strong crowd-pleasing game gets everyone in the audience on your side from the start. Games with similar mechanics, such as guessing games or gibberish games, might want to have one or two other games between them or spread out between the two acts - unless you want to specifically lump them together and feature them at a particular point in the show. (Maybe they fit with the theme or title of your show...)
After any show, always debrief and figure out what games worked and why/why not. It could be that a good game was played in a bad slot - remember that and account for it in your next show.
What else needs to be considered to make a good show? Share it with us in the comments below.
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What We Read
Improv is Easy!
People and Chairs
The House That Del Built
Improv Dance Party
NOTE: Most of the blogs above are maintained by adult improvisers, and as a result may contain scene descriptions or language that are not school-appropriate.
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