Improv Tip of the Month: They Want Something

This month’s improv tip is from Shawn Westfall, BossaNova’s Improv Guru:

The characters sitting at the center of our favorite sitcoms, shows, movies, plays, novels, short stories and improv scenes all have one thing in common: they want something.In most cases, they want something desperately. Indeed, that often is what informs the plots of the stories or scenes they are in. Hamlet wants revenge. Will he get it? Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman wants the respect he feels he so clearly deserves, something he feels he’s devoted his life to. Does he get it, in the end? That old “pretentious” actor cliché– the one that has him or her stopping a scene to ask “what’s my motivation?”—is actually useful information for the actor to know, another way of trying to discover what his or her character wants. And anyone who’s ever been part of a production knows that what a character wants in the play isn’t always clear, that what he or she says she wants may have little to do with what he or she actually wants.

Improv tip of the month: what does your favorite sitcom, sketch, or movie character have in common?

This month’s improv tip is from Shawn Westfall, BossaNova’s Improv Guru:

Think about your favorite sitcom, sketch, or movie characters. What do they have in common? A comic perspective: a committed way of seeing the world that’s uniquely theirs. Norm on “Cheers” doesn’t just like beer: he views the world through the bottom of a beer glass. Ron Burgandy from “Anchorman” isn’t just an anchorman; rather, he wears his local-TV anchorman status as a kind of armor to get him through his day.

The Fastest Way To Trust: Laughter

This post was written by Shawn Westfall, Improv Guru.

Begin with the End in Mind: A Post Mortem (and a Drink)

One of the “traditions” I’ve established during my eight-year history of teaching beginning improvisational comedy classes at the DC Improv is what I call “the-after-the-class-drinks-and-post-mortem”: everyone of drinking age retires to a local pub to share their experiences of the class. Approximately 17 people squeeze into a medium-sized booth at a local Irish pub to hoist their potable preferences, where I then invite their class critiques. Hey, it’s better than some formalized written class critique. Plus, there’s booze.