Scene Starters

So I’m starting to take this whole improv thing a little more seriously—not only because it’s tremendously fun, but because I think it’s a good way for me to get back into performing without necessarily going all out and doing full-on community theater. (Little known fact: I performed a lot as a kid, including being in a semi-professional troupe in the homeland and being a drama geek in high school.) Plus, I think I have at least some aptitude for improv, which is why I’ve decided to start seriously honing it.

In addition to filling my ever-growing library with all sorts of non-higher ed books, I’ve also started reading what my improv teacher, Dan, considers some quintissential resources on improv: Improvise: Scene from the Inside Out by Napier and Truth in Comedy: The Manual of Improvisation by Halpern, Close, and Johnson. He also prescribed a couple of exercises for homework, namely coming up with initiation lines (i.e., scene starters) that set up scenes with texture and purpose rather than going up on stage and just saying “Hey, what’s up” (which I so easily fall into doing).

So I decided to write a couple of these down. Let me know what you think:

  • “Sir, I thought you said you’d leave your wife for me.”
  • “I’m wearing your underpants.”
  • “Well, now that she’s dead, I can finally say it: Honey, I hate your mother.”
  • “Yeah, she said to just rub some of this ointment on it twice a day.”
  • “I’m giving away free massages.”
  • “I want it to say ‘I like to eat bunnies for breakfast.'”
  • “That’s right, I’m sauteeing your poodle.”
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