Rule #1 — AgreeThe first rule of improvisation is AGREE. Always agree and SAY YES.
When you’re improvising, this means you are required to agree with whatever your partner has created. So if we’re improvising and I say, “Freeze, I have a gun,” and you say, “That’s not a gun. It’s your finger. You’re pointing your finger at me,” our improvised scene has ground to a halt.
Rule #2 — Not Only Say Yes… Say Yes AndThe second rule of improvisation is not only to say yes, but YES, AND. You are supposed to agree and then add something of your own.
If I start a scene with “I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,” and you just say, “Yeah…” we’re kind of at a standstill.
But if I say, “I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,” and you say, “What did you expect? We’re in hell.” Or if I say, “I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,” and you say, “Yes, this can’t be good for the wax figures.”
Rule #3 — Make StatementsThis is a positive way of saying “Don’t ask questions all the time.” If we’re in a scene and I say, “Who are you? Where are we? What are we doing here? What’s in that box?” I’m putting pressure on you to come up with all the answers.
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Rule #4 — There Are No Mistakes… Only OpportunitiesIf I start a scene as what I think is very clearly a cop riding a bicycle, but you think I am a hamster in a hamster wheel, guess what?
Now I’m a hamster in a hamster wheel.