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You Just Gotta Laugh ...

After the last year and all it's tumultuous times, it's good to approach life with a lighter part and look to humor as a resource and relief. Using comedy as a form of expression is part of the New Year, Now You! 7 Days of Success Challenge taking place right now in Jan 2021 and as part of that we have the wonderfully funny Judy Frary from improv workshop group HER-larious who has generously donated some of their top tips to help aid y'all through your Day 4 Challenge. Please check out HER-larious on FB and be sure to pop along to the next workshop! I now leave you in safe and herlarious hands:

HER-larious’s Top Tips for Improvised Comedy!

Improvisation is one of the most fun, free and imaginative forms of comedy. With improv- anything goes. One scene could be a dramatic break up over spoons, and the next you could be fighting dinosaurs on the moon. Here are some top tips to help turn your improvisation from good to great!

1. Say YES!

One of the most fundamental rules of improv is “yes, and”. Say yes to the situation, embrace what is going on, and build on it. If you and your scene partner both agree to the world created, then you can advance forward together. For example:

Tony: “Does this dish look clean to you”

Terri: “Hmm… I think I can still see some leftover BBQ sauce”

Not the most exciting start, but what Terri’s done is a simple “yes, and”: yes to the situation (washing dishes), and built on it (BBQ sauce). But if Tony thinks they’re in the kitchen washing dishes, and Terri believes they are whale spotting in a submarine, then they are on two different pages and already facing a hurdle. We want to try and agree on the Who, What, Where of the scene together so we can begin to “yes, and” and support each other. Another helpful way of thinking of this is “if this is true, what else is true?”. For example, whale spotting in a submarine: if this is true what else is true? Perhaps the periscope has a smudge on it, which means you don’t see the shipwreck ahead, which means you crash, which means an old treasure chest has smashed into your chamber, which means… etc. etc. Embrace what is happening and explore what heights you can take the scene to.

2. Take it Seriously

Building on from “if this is true, what else is true”, take what is given to you as fact. Sure, fighting dinosaurs on the moon isn’t realistic, but in the improvised world- it is 100% real. Your character really is having hand to hand combat with a T-Rex, so commit to it and take it as seriously as you would if you were performing Shakespeare. How would your character really, truly react? Just like in dramatic acting, we want to see real emotional responses. You might have a character that is loud, exaggerated and expressive, how would they behave in a fight with a T-Rex? What about if your character is shy and mild-mannered? When we find the truth in comedy, that’s when the fun starts to flow.

3. Have FUN

The most important rule at HER-larious is to have fun. Improv can be challenging, and we’ve all been caught up in our own heads, not paying attention to our partner, worried about what to say next, riddled with anxiety and before you know it, you’re stuck in this vicious circle and things are getting worse. The truth is, sometimes scenes don’t work, and jokes don’t land. But as long as you are having fun, so are the audience. And if you’re not having fun, make it fun! What makes you laugh? What do you enjoy? If you can make it enjoyable and funny for yourself, chances are that the audience will follow suit.

HER-larious is a monthly drop in improv comedy workshop for womxn and non-binary people of all experience levels. You can find out more about us over on Facebook.

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