Before giving you all the solution, I need to analyze the problem. Why are so many improvisers so afraid of giving extra information and detail to a scene? Why are we so content giving the least we can and hoping we get the most? It's because we're nervous and we're scared. Scared of? Nervous about? Many things. That by giving detail we'll derail the scene. That it won't be funny. That we won't have enough time to be entertaining because we explained something. That the audience will get overwhelmed. That we'll forget. Most importantly it's because improvisers ourselves are so focused on the big picture, the long form, that we treat scenes like Anthony Micheal Hall's acting career. The sad truth is, if you think that giving your two cents to the First National Bank of Improv at the beginning of a scene, don't expect $2000 plus in interest at the end of one.
So how do we add detail and depth to our scenes? How do we not only make them more interesting, but easier on ourselves? How can we use detail to enhance the scene and do more than we were before?
Well I'm glad you asked, because I have gathered many tips from many sources...
Be Very Specific
As a very bossy person I can sympathies with people who are afraid of being too specific. Like when your partner says, "What's that?" and you go, "I don't know! What do you think?" instead of "My God, they're putting toupees on Mount Rushmore!" because they said it, it's their contribution, or because if you keep calling the shots on unnamed objects, people, and events you've basically hijacked the scene in your mind's eye. Well, calm down. Instead of saying "Nice car!" say "Wow! A 1968 Chevy Impala!" Not only have you clued in your scene partner, but the audience can start envisioning who would own a car like that. Are they some old guy? An artsy student? Some washed up rockstar? Be specific about that, too. Help yourself help your partner help the audience.
Your Audience Cares
Your audience is more concerned than you may think they are by the table being mimed at three different locations. They are more put off that "Chuck" is also called Dan, Bill, and Lorrie than you think. Your audience is uncomfortable when you walk through a fridge. It's the one of you who damns putting wheels on the table, who says Chuck is in witness protection, that quips about the human shaped hole in the fridge that puts your audience to rest.
Give Information About Your Scene Partner
The line "Nice tie" opens up so much about your location to your audience without flat out saying your at a wedding, or at prom, or an office elevator. It's tasteful hinting at your surroundings. "You're a grown man!" "I guess it would be hard coming from a Catholic family." "That's why Cathy broke up with you." This helps you and the other players learn how to handle their character, and gives tasteful relationship history.
It Happens Again and Again....
Give history with one word or a quick one liner. This is a fun joke in itself, by the way. Instead of "We can't get arrested!" make it "We can't get arrested again!" A line like "Remember what happened last time..." gives opportunity to a related one liner.
Your Face is Familiar
As many reading this are high school students (I think), then at least five of you have read a Spanish 2 textbook and been surprised that Miguel and Ana just met, but he's asking her about where her dad works and what she's so nervous about. Like, Hola Senorita, my name is Miguel and I'm real nervous about my executive meeting today. This is more of a general warning, but I've seen and been told that opening a scene as strangers can often make things difficult. Not always, of course, but there's a reason we try to establish relationships, and we swear it is for the players benefit.
If you can try an incorporate these into your scenes, then you'll have well formed, detailed work that will keep your audience at peace and entertained.