What Makes An Improv Scene Funny?

Speak Your Mind

This is the main way that improv characters differ from real life characters — they speak earnestly most of the time. It makes scenes clear, direct and important. But it’s also very often funny!

  • “When you asked if I wanted a hot dog you hurt my feelings.”
  • “I was hoping tonight on this date we would fall in love, or at least sleep together, or at least WANT to.”
  • “I don’t respect you, but I do fear you.”
  • “I am bullying you because of insecurities I have.”
  • “What I want from this job is money, because money makes me feel strong.”

Accept Most Offers

Doing an idea in an improv scene YOU thought of is only as good as the idea. Doing an idea someone else is putting on you — offering to you — is twice as good.

  1. “Hello, I’m here to rob this bank.” OR
  2. “You, sir, are you here to rob this bank?”
    “Yes I am.”

Commit

You know: act.

Lose

Losing is funny. A common way to “lose” in an improv scene: make any accusation about you true.

Make Things Worse

A slightly broader version of “lose” — make things worse for everyone around you.

  • The accountant embezzling from the company to impress the CEO.
  • The general who thinks they should stop using camouflage because it’s cowardly.
  • The germaphobe who brings his own toilet to a restaurant.
  • The king who summons his bravest knight away from a battle because he needs help picking out “a cool shield.”

Heighten the Contrast

A big part of comedy is contrast. You put together two things that don’t go together, and an improviser throws in some twisted logic to make it feel like normal human behavior.

Catch the Stupidity

One person is doing something dumb. Someone else comes in and does the same dumb thing. You almost don’t need a reason for it. The foolishness has somehow just spread.

Be Silly

My most vague piece of advice. But funny people seem to have a twinkle in their eye and just like silly details, overly specific words, and certain... randomness that insert chaos into things.

Use Non-Round Numbers

People default to round numbers in improv. Make them a bit higher or lower to make your scenes more interesting and yes maybe even funny.

Focus On The Wrong Thing

Suzi: “My dog just died.”

Try A Low Status Yes

When accused of outrageous behavior, people often default to a big confident yes.

Blame Pride

When you’re doing a scene and someone asks you to explain your unreasonable behavior and you can’t think of what to say, just say “pride.” It can explain any foolish behavior.

Stand on Two Chairs And Pretend To Be A Giant

You ever done this? It’s really funny. Shout-out to Shaun Diston, who suggested this to me when I was asking friends for good improv gimmicks that were at least always fun to do.

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Will Hines

Will Hines

208 Followers

Los Angeles, actor, improviser, amateur computer programmer. Born in 1970, largely nice. Founder of http://www.wgimprovschool.com/