Scene Suggestions

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Scene Suggestions

Postby vine311 » April 28th, 2006, 4:52 pm

I've been trying to come up with different ways to ask for suggestions for a scene and I was curious if you folks had any favorites that you could recommend. I found this list here http://www.humanpingpongball.com/glossary_Ask-for.html and it does have some interesting ideas but I want more. So, what is your favorite way to ask for a suggestion before a scene?
"Have you ever scrapped high?" Jon Bolden "Stabby" - After School Improv

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Postby Evilpandabear » April 28th, 2006, 5:07 pm

this is off topic, but one thing i really enjoyed in ed32 rehearsal is having everyone in the troupe write down 5 scene ideas that they've never seen in improv but always wanted to. then take turns directing a scene of your choice. i'll never forget the scene sean o'brien directed where i was gambling over terminally ill children.
"Anyone can teach improv. It's bullshit." -Andy Crouch on June 4th 11:33pm CST
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Postby Wesley » April 28th, 2006, 5:29 pm

I actualy made a list of questions, about 100 or so long, that I've come up with. I've only used a handful, but I found just thinking about it is a good exercise. Every now and then, if I think I'm stagnating with what I ask, I'll open the file and read a few I've not used before I head out to a show.

Most of the ones I try to think of force people (or try to force people) to think for a second before answering. You can avoid "sex!" and "poop!" that way and hopefully get some good, less common ideas for a scene.

For example, here are a few:
"What was the one thing you always wanted for Christmas as a kid that you never got?"
"What was the last thing you spent more than $100 for?"
"What was the last item so pressing, that you had to go to the store after midnight to get it?"
"Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?"
"Albert Einstein visits you in a time machine he secretly built. He has 1 day in Austin. What do you take him to see, do, or eat?"
"What is the thing you truly regret most in your life?"
"What is a job someone might have outside the United States that we don't really have here?"

There's also the double suggestion route to avoid the first blurted out answers (which are usually the low-brow sex and poop ones). For example:
"Give me a verb. I heard run. What is something other than a person that runs?"
"Give me a verb. I heard fuck. Who was the last person you told to fuck off?"
"Can I get your middle initial? K? Can I get a word that starts with a K?"
"What is your favorite pasttime? Sex? OK, where is the most interesting place you've ever had sex?"

There is one I've heard Wallace whip out a few times, the "mis-hear," but you have to carry it off right to get away with it.
"Can I get a word beginning with H? (Audience yells Herpes!) Alright, when the scene comes up, we'll have a scene inspired by Hershey's."

You can disallow or refine a suggestion. Sometimes negotiating can allow you to change their suggestion while still making it sound like their suggestion:
"Oh, we played this game last week and had sex as the suggestion, let's get something else."
"Science is awfully broad, can I get a field you might study within science?"
"I heard taking a shit as the suggestion. Sir, what is it about taking a shit for you that makes it magical? Alone time? OK, let's go with alone time as the suggestion."

Oh, and finally, in a longer show, like Maestro reward good suggestions. If you are only taking one, it works a little less, but if you tell people, "Wow, that's a really great suggestion. I don't think I'e ever heard that before," or something along those lines, you seem to up the ante for the next suggestion.

I've also seen director's employ other tricks, whether on purpose or not, that can elicit a beter suggestion. Such as giving the players the out ("Lollipops. Players, you good with lollipops?"), the knowing shrug and nod(Andy does this a lot, he'll tweak something and then seem to mentally chew it over and give it credence. Like the 'take a shit' suggestion above. Andy would get to 'alone time' and then nod, maybe repeat it, and take a slight pause and people are Ok with the old switcheroo that's been pulled because it seems more difficult or thoughtful or something), and other such tactics.

And see Buckman's 3 rules he gave when hosting. I truly think that tactic helped.
"I do."
--Christina de Roos . . . Bain . . . Christina Bain
:-)

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Postby fbillac » April 28th, 2006, 6:14 pm

I, like most hosts, have a few that I stick by cuz they generally yield varried results. My favorite is, "Name an activity that takes more than 2 people to get done correctly."

If I get "sex" or something along those lines I will generally shut it down but make sure to get a laugh in the process by saying something like "Sex? Well as much as the players enjoy sex, it is just something we don't want to see demonstrated on stage! Do you really want to see Wes naked?!?" ...or something like that.

A fun exercise is to think of the great scenes you have wittnessed, figure out the theme or what might have been the suggestion, then ask youself what vague question could you ask to solicit that response. You will find that more than one suggestion will come from a vague request. Confused? I'll demonstrate:

I saw a scene that was very funny that involved locksmiths.

The question to ask would be, "What job requires the use of special tools?" or "Name a job that requires specialized training"

Suddenly, you have a nifty way of getting scene starts.

-Dav
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Quoted from my wife when I was jazz handsing.
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Postby acrouch » April 28th, 2006, 6:34 pm

I think the best "ask-fors" are ones that make the audience thrill a little bit when you take the suggestion -- because it engages them emotionally or intellectually. The Knuckleball Now often asks for "something you got in trouble for as a kid."

We're missing an opportunity to connect with the audience (and inspire them!) if we ask for lame stuff like "favorite color" or "a relationship between two people" or "a non-geographic location."

Why not ask "where were you conceived?" or "two people that secretly want to kill each other?" or "the color of your favorite stuffed animal as a child?"
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Postby Brian Boyko » April 28th, 2006, 7:05 pm

For example, here are a few:
"What was the one thing you always wanted for Christmas as a kid that you never got?"

Pussy!

"What was the last thing you spent more than $100 for?"

Pussy!

"What was the last item so pressing, that you had to go to the store after midnight to get it?"

Pussy!

"Albert Einstein visits you in a time machine he secretly built. He has 1 day in Austin. What do you take him to see, do, or eat?"

Pussy, Pussy, Pussy!

"What is the thing you truly regret most in your life?"

Pussy.
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Postby Evilpandabear » April 28th, 2006, 7:12 pm

Brian Boyko wrote:"What is the thing you truly regret most in your life?"

Pussy.


Amen, Brother. Amen.
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