On Saturdays, I take a class in Improv Comedy. I thought I’d share with you one of the exercises/game we did it class.
The game is called “Growing & Shrinking Freeze Tag”. In regular Improv Freeze Tag, two people start a scene, and at some point, while in the midpoint of some action, the director (or the audience) yells “Freeze”, and the actors must hold that position. Another actor joins the scene, tags one of the original actors, and replaces him in the scene, taking the exact same position. The new actor now must start a completely new scene, with them doing a new action — but must justify them being in their starting positions. He must also convey to the other actor enough information about the situation he just created (CROW - Character, Relationship, Objective, Where) so that he can join in.
The Growing & Shinking is a variation on that. Saturday, it went like this:
Bob and I started a scene. Bob was a tattoo artist and I was looking for a tattoo. I showed him my forearm and we discussed possible tattoos.
Now, instead of replacing one of the two actors, someone must create a three-person scene to explain why Bob is holding my upper arm. Tera took the challenge. She entered and addressed Bob as a doctor and expressed concern about her little boy getting an injection. I cried about getting a shot. Tera tried to comfort me. I recoiled in pain and
Amanda enters the scene. She’s a cop, trying to stop Bob from mugging Tera & me (which explains why Bob looks like he’s about to punch me in the arm while I’m frightened). We subdue Bob and restraint him on the ground, and
Someone (either Jen or Cindy, I forget) enters. She’s Dr. Frankenstein, Bob’s the monster, and Tera, Amanda & I are attendants tying him to the table. She throws a lever and Bob comes alive..
###Now it gets tricky (part I)
The last person who entered, must find an excuse to leave (that’s easy), and the remaining four people must continue the scene. This is tricky, as we are now without the person who devised the scene, and most importantly, was the motivating force behind it. Dr. Frankenstein leaves (to alert the media or something). We’re left to figure out what to do next. Also important in this is that we must change the “scene picture” – we must be doing something different so that the director can yell “freeze”.
I suggested that we teach the monster to walk. I put my arm around Bob, and start showing him how to take a step.
###Now it gets tricky (part II)
We must now return to 4-person scene we were doing before, but nevertheless, justify the position we are now in, specifically, we’re back at the scene of the mugging, with me (mugging victim) having my arm around Bob (mugger) as we walk.
I yell, “Quick! He getting away!” We subdue Bob again, and Amanda (the cop) leaves to “get help”. Tera & I must now continue the scene of two mugging victims left alone with the mugger. I pretend to kick him in revenge for the mugging.
We are now a little boy & his mother standing over a doctor who’s lying face down. My first thought ( * ) was to yell “Bad Doctor! Bad Bad Doctor! That Shot hurt!”. Tera picked up on this and says she’s going to report him to the AMA and storms out (now it didn’t make much sense for her to leave her child behind, that’s how the game is played). Bob and I continue the scene – he continues the examination. Now checking my ears…
Bob says he cannot do tattoos inside an ear.
( * ) It later occurred to me a better way to continue would have been to say “Oh No, The doctor’s had a heart attack! Is there another doctor in the house”. But as always, the good ones good to you too late…..