The Fundamental Unit of Improv Comedy (from Calculus!)

I finally started working on my bog (hopefully BIG) improv book and/or course. Now that I am experimenting with the idea of “showing my work”, I wanted to share a little of the initial idea I was working on.

Not that long back I read a book on the history and development of calculus (yeah, I’m a nerd…). One of the takeaways for me was that calculus was about understanding and measuring large things by breaking them down into infinitely small things. Don’t worry if that makes no sense (and don’t correct me if I am wrong - this post isn’t really about calculus, you know…)

This got me thinking, “what’s the smallest possible unit of an improv comedy game, scene, or story?”

Here’s the answer I came up with:

The Offer-Response Unit.

Yup. Pretty simple. One Offer followed by one response is about as small as I can break improv down.

Try to go any smaller and you don’t have much of anything. And just by combining a series of those single unit, you can build a conversation, a whole game or scene, or even a full long-form (like we do on the In a World Of...Improvised Movie Homages podcast).

Quick Definitions:

  • Offer - anything an improviser does or says that adds to the scene or game. This could be verbally, physically, emotionally, or something else. It’s a pretty broad definition, which is why some struggle with it.
  • Response - how an improviser responds to the offer, emotionally, physically, verbally. 

Master the Offer-Response Unit and learn how to combine them into the Offer-Response Cycle, and you’re on your way to being an amazing improv performer.

I plan on going much deeper into this as I work on the book/course. If you would like me to share about that, or if you have specific questions, please let me know.

Tags:

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Recent Episodes:

Engineering Titanium Destiny

In the Style of a Robot Friend Movie like “Short Circuit” or the Iron Giant.” In a World…where some will do anything to create weapons of mass destruction…a lost robot will learn its own way in the world while making friends with a special boy. As long as it can keep away from the people who

Read More
Engineering Titanium Destiny

Invaders

In the Style of a Sci-Fi Horror Action Movie like “Aliens.”In a World…where there is more beyond the stars than man is aware of…or can prepare for, sometimes the most dangerous threats are far closer to home.This show features the improv games Blind Offers, Rashomon, Sound Effects, and Tempo.Note: This is what we call one

Read More
Invaders

Land of the Giant Forest Iguanas – with Guest Rick Horner!

 In the Style of a Planet of the Apes Sci-Fi Movie – with Special Guest Rick Horner! In a World…where humans no longer rule and giant iguanas are the dominant species…a small group of humans will find themselves as the ultimate outcasts, fighting for their own survival and the survival of the human race…This show contains

Read More
Land of the Giant Forest Iguanas – with Guest Rick Horner!

Never Miss an Episode!

>