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View topic - Playing the game | UCB Comedy • Improv and Sketch Comedy Resource Forum

Playing the game


Questions/Comments about the LA Class Program

Playing the game

Postby ifechukwude » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:30 pm



After finishing my grad show last night and getting notes, I started thinking about game and how to play it properly. I wrote about it in my blog. Do you agree? Coaches, teachers, and performers. I would love your input as well. Lets get some deep discussion going!
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Re: Playing the game

Postby jakeregal » Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:01 pm

Great post! A whole lot of what you said is dead on. I have two small thoughts about points 2 and 5 (just my opinion, of course).

I think some people are told to "rest the game" and they actively try to shy away from playing game-based improv for 30 seconds, or a minute, or whatever. Exploring character and environment doesn't have to be a parallel process to playing the game--they can and should intersect. If the scene has a game, the exploration of character and environment will generate more organic ways to hit the game, rather than the inventing that may take place if you don't take time to explore.

"Heightening" is a tricky word. Roof jump to skydiving from space is a totally valid first --> second beat. However, if you think of the second beat simply as a stakes heightening of the first, I think you may find yourself doing more scenes in space, with the president, and in heaven than you would probably like. Your instinct to not want to do Mad Libs scenes is 100% right. I just think it's generally more useful to ask yourself, "what's another fun place I can take this game?" It doesn't have to be traditionally more perilous, just evocative of an emotional reaction for your scene partner.

Anyhow, those are my thoughts. I thought your post was great. You have a much better grasp on things than I did after 301, that's for sure.
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Re: Playing the game

Postby joewengert » Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:47 pm

This is a great post. I encourage this kind of critical thought for everybody working their way through the program. Making the concepts your own by putting them into your own words is a great way to learn anything.

I have some clarifications/thoughts about what you wrote!

First - I agree with Jake on both of his points. In terms of resting: I also feel like resting isn't an absolutely essential aspect for every scene...sometimes you'll have a clear, easily refillable Game that can just be hit over and over (see Hot Sauce for examples of this). The benefit of resting is that, by making the character's more three dimensional and interesting, your scene will likely have more resonance.

My thoughts on your post

1. I agree with you about how keeping things grounded makes the Game easier to see. I would add these words to your definition of the starting point of Game: SPECIFIC & INTERESTING. The "first unusual thing" doesn't always have to be funny or weird or even that unusual! A lot of great Games simply start in specific and interesting places, especially if that specific or interesting thing is coming from an honest, real life experience.

3. You clearly understand the value of the "why." I think it might help you to think of the "why" as a character's philosophy or POV. Perhaps you already do this, but your examples all seemed to be related to a specific goal or thing that a character wants. If you thought of his reasoning more along the lines of "a guy who is addicted to taking risks" I think it becomes easier to apply that to a number of situations and settings. "Why" doesn't always have to be in reaction to getting a specific result, it is more about how a character views their world.

5. I actually think just repeating the same Game in a different situation is good! If it doesn't work, that is usually evidence of a flawed Game or weak, predictable heightening and exploration. You want to avoid doing the same exact thing with the same exact specifics, because in that situation you end up with the same exact jokes. But same Game in a new situation is a good way to approach 2nd beats!

Raising the stakes is appropriate only when stakes are an integral part of your Game. Since I might title your Game as "putting yourself in potentially harmful situations to get what you want" it is natural to try and think of other harmful situations, I just don't think you need to think of them as MORE harmful. When you really break it down, jumping out of a window sounds like it might actually be MORE dangerous that skydiving (assuming you are skydiving under the guidance of professionals). Does that make your 2nd beat idea bad? I don't think so - because it plays the same Game. But you are maybe making you do some extra work that is unnecessary.

Hope this helps. Thanks for sharing!
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