Freeze Game

The Freeze Game is a popular game in improv shows, often used as a high-energy end to a set. A group of players – usually between 4 and 10 – lines up at the back of the stage. Two people, A and B, come forward, ask the audience for a suggestion for an activity, then perform an activity, emphasizing interesting movements. The players in the background are outside the scene. They watch the activity but keep still. A delivers a line. B responds – ideally with something funny. As soon as they strike an interesting new position, one of the players lined up in the background will...

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He Said, She Said

“He Said, She Said” is an improv game where two players control each other’s actions. The basic idea of the game is easy enough. One player delivers a line of dialogue. The other player then adds the words “he said” (or “she said”), followed by a description of the first player’s next actions. Ann: “Want some pancakes?” Ben: She said, drumming her fingers impatiently. Ann now does what she’s told, and starts drumming her fingers impatiently, while waiting for him to answer. Ben now delivers his next line. Ben: Sure, they look...

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Parodying the film noir detective film

The film noir detective film, with its hard-boiled detectives and gorgeous, backstabbing dames, is a great genre to parody, whether as a comedy sketch, a sequence in a movie or sitcom, or an improvised scene. I’m going to discuss a few quick’n’dirty tricks to creating a detective genre parody. Imitating any genre usually requires either (1) an intimate knowledge of the genre, or (2) a number of tricks which make it appear that you have an intimate knowledge of the genre. Here we’re going to be looking at strategy number 2, as it applies to the 1940s detective mystery...

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The sketch comedy monologue

If you’re writing sketch comedy, the monologue is a real time-saver. A sketch comedy monologue usually involves one actor talking directly to the audience in character. The comedy comes from the character, and will usually have a story to it. It’s different from a standup monologue, which typically depends more heavily on a series of gags stuck together with weak segues. Only one actor is required, so they’re easy to write, rehearse and produce, assuming your character isn’t simultaneously disemboweling an elephant, or shooting incoming TIE fighters. And even then, you...

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Writing Tips: Bathos

One of my favourite comedy words is “bathos”. Bathos is a technique which many experienced writers use instinctively, but most don’t know by name – which means you can throw the word around and sound cleverer than they are. Bathos is humour that comes from an incongruous change of tone. In practice, this usually means a line or scene that starts out lofty but suddenly switches to lowbrow. Bathos is not to be confused with pathos, which sounds similar, but isn’t funny at all. Pathos means playing on emotions. If your audience is laughing, it’s bathos. If they look sad, it’s...

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