Everyone likes free gifts, especially if it’s something you can use. And lucky for you, I know exactly the best gift you could ever want. See how cute and furry it is? Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot you were allergic. What’s happening to your face?
Giving a gift in improv is exactly like the scene I painted in your mind. I gave you something cute and fluffy, like a kitten. I then gave something to help you react to the gift… literally. You became allergic to the pet I tossed in your arms and responded in your mind to the gesture. Sorry about the rash. It will clear up soon.
The three questions to ask when giving a gift are:
When doing an improv scene, specifically in the character build-up, it is important to establish certain quirks in each actor. I could have said, “oh, look at that kitten,” which would also add a small gift to the scene. However, with adding and not giving to the scene or your character, the weight falls on you to give it purpose to the scene. A good improviser could pick it up and run with it (and you’re smart so you would probably run out of the scene), yet it becomes more of a burden for you to continue.
As an improv actor, I must improve my partner and help them through the scene. By adding extra character development, and adding a gesture, I helped carry the scene to you. The dialogue becomes meaningful and fun in its own way.
Tossing kittens around may not work all the time (and you’ll get a call from the ethics committee), so that is why we Rolodex the best idea before we give the gift. Once I gave the gift, or threw it in this case, you must choose to accept it and give another. This is the basic concept behind the “Yes, and” rule of improv acting. By the way, here’s some ointment for that rash… ignore the poison logo.
So what was one of your best gifts, or scene moments you shared with someone on or off stage?
"What are five new titles for this post?"
How to Rolodex; Improvodex; 5 Things Connected; All the Ideas; Flippy Paper in My Mind.
Professional improvists have been using this simple technique to boost their wit for years. In fact, you can watch some of them using it in any outtake on your favorite comedy. Some shows even use Rolodexing as their main form of comedy. Yet, they will flip through some of the fluff that gets weeded out in their mind (don't worry, I will explain how to find the best answer in a moment). But now is the time for a no hesitation game!
"Speak before you think" is the idea behind this trick. It gets rid of those silly inhibitions you may have as you are acting out an improvised scene or if you want to spark some life into your dialogue.
How to play the Rolodex warm-up:
"So this is a great way to kill some time on a car ride, but what is the benefit?"
I'm glad you asked for now is the moment we turn five bars of lead into gold.
While answering questions with the Rolodex warm-up, your mind is being conditioned for a plethora of answers to any question or scenario. While performing, this technique is often done in your mind. All you have to do is pick the right answer that offers the most to the scene. Something that will help the others spring the scene forward.
In improvisational acting, you must always give a gift to your partners.
So be sure to try the increasingly popular Improvodex: a brand new invention from the minds who brought you Void Violets, Stew the Lamb, and the Bowling Dive. Available now at comedy shows everywhere.