What is improv?
Improvisational theatre, or “improv” for short, is an art form in which actors deliver unscripted performances to an audience. Everything done and said on stage is completely spontaneous and collaboratively created by the improvisers as they play.
The specific flavour of improv we, DIG, specialise in is “short-form improv”: performing short, 3-minute scenes, often in a specific game format, aimed at reaching comedic moments.
The best way of getting a feel for what this exactly means, is seeing some improv in action. For this reason, we have some examples for you of professional improv. The videos are also just great fun to watch:
Narrate from “Whose Line is it Anyway”
Narrate is a game that we also play during our jams. The film noir music immediately creates this moody atmosphere: everyone is suddenly wearing long coats and smoking a cigarette, outside it starts raining and the screen turns black and white. And as part of the game, the improvisers can step to the front every now and then to express the thoughts of their character or add a twist to the story.
Sentences from “Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza”
In Sentences, or “Notes” as we call it, the actors read off audience-written sentences from notes and try to incorporate them in their scene. We often play this during improv shows because it’s super fun for the audience to mess with the improvisers with weird notes.
Isn't improv super hard?
If this is your first time seeing improv, this might very well be what you’re thinking. In reality, however, it really is not so bad. It is always surprising to see how quickly new people at our improv jams pick up on it and start creating intriguing and funny scenes. And maybe it is not so surprising, because, in a way, improv is something we all already do on a daily basis. None of the conversations you have with other people are scripted. Your brain is already wired for producing lines on the fly.
It’s also not a problem if you think you’re not enough of a ‘funny person’ to do improv. First of all, improv might be a nice way to discover or develop your own sense of humour beyond what you believe you already have. But, more importantly, most of the ‘jokes’ in a scene naturally arise from small mistakes made by the actors, misunderstandings between them and slightly awkward delivery of lines that is inherent in improvisation. You don’t have to be a funny person to perform a really funny scene.
Improv at DIG
During our weekly improv jams, participants play many games similar to what you’ve seen here. If you maybe want to try improv at one of our jams but don’t know what to expect, check out the improv jams page.
Additionally, we organise an improv show every months in which we perform these games to an audience. If you don’t want to try improv yourself but still want to attend a show check our events page.
Note: we’re not as good as the professional improvisers on television, we’re amateurs, but it is still definitely worthwhile to come by! Watching live improv – being part of the moment and interacting with the actors – is very different from watching a recording
Hey, you made it to the end of the page!
Here is a bonus video: a scene of the game Forward Rewind on the BBC show “Fast and Loose”:
We don’t really play this game much at the time of writing but, who knows, maybe we’ll pick it up in the future. We generally also don’t kiss each other during improv jams…