Greetings TIM 201'ers!! This is your official "Improv 201" thread to get our class started. Please use this space to comment/recap the week's class, discuss any homework assignments, or any other improv related "ah-has," links, questions, or comments. Remember the more you engage both in and out of class, the more we will be able to get out of class itself. I will be on the forums 2-3 times per week to check in and see what's going on. Thanks for choosing TIM to continue your improv journey!
I think it's a combination of his lightness on his feet, and that he seems to be chasing a prey (which he is, of course: the person in his imagination who calls him a coward and a villain). I think he is chasing his own tail.
Thanks for those excellent examples! Also, thanks for the assistance on Youtube!
You make an interesting point about silent films, and how physicality may be heightened because of the lack of speech. I think there is a direct link to improv, in that many times (especially now that we've practiced) being non verbal gives us a chance to really play with physicality, and even hone in one particular trait that can make a character unique.
The sketch is funny because it's absurd for someone to mistake a duck for a pigeon. The game of the scene is arguing about whether the bird is a pigeon or a duck, when it is obviously a duck.
In this TV sketch, the audience can clearly see that it's a duck because there is really a duck on stage. But in improv, the scene would not work without modification because there would not be a duck on stage. Arguing about the species of the bird would therefore become a denial of the base reality; a failure to "yes, and". It might be possible to fix this by replacing the duck with the sound of a duck -- a third improviser could quack like a duck to help establish the base reality. By making the presence of the duck undeniable, it would be possible to make the improv scene about denying the undeniable, without confusing the audience.
If the players had wished to shorten the scene they could have cut it at 4:54, when we find out that the "pigeon's" name is Donald.
Both characters have working-class accents from the south of England. They constantly disagree with each other, but not in a mean way. They stay on the topic of the disagreement without making personal insults (a valuable life lesson).
The characters contrast with each other in that one seems knowledgeable (about pigeons, dogs, etc) while the other is foolish and gullible. The punchline comes when the previously knowledgeable character's greyhound turns out to be a small dog clearly of a different breed than a greyhound. This is a comical twist: the smart character turns out be foolish too. We should perhaps have suspected this when he agreed that the duck eats fish.
There is also an historical gift in this scene. One character refers back to a time when the other character bought a hamster, believing it to be a day-old Labrador puppy. But I presume this was scripted, so I don't know if really counts as a gift (as it would in improv).
Thank you for this excellent and thorough write up!
We can touch more on it in class, but there are ways to create a base reality where the two characters can disagree on what they see (we can dabble in these more advanced moves tomorrow) and honor what has been created.
Regarding if something is a gift, even it is scripted--I say YES! Even in written sketch comedy, those gifts can drive the writing, and thus the flow of the scene. Really, a lot of times improv scenes (where a gift is given) can be the inspiration for a sketch anyways-Second City utilizes this philosophy.
Such great analysis, I cannot wait to dig into it more tomorrow!