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Student Blog: The Art of Improvisation

Last semester, I had the amazing opportunity to join Unpland Improv, Southeastern’s improvisational comedy team. Unpland Improv gives students the opportunity to pursue their passions, use their gifts and think on their feet in order to make people laugh. It has been an absolute blast being part of the team and doing something I love. We act out crazy scenarios, make outrageous puns and occasionally burst out in song. All in one night, I can be a Viking, an astronaut or a T-rex trainer — the possibilities are endless!

People ask me all the time how we are so comfortable doing improv in front of a large crowd of people. Unfortunately there is no one secret to becoming a great improviser. It certainly helps to have a hilarious team around you. It also helps to have strategies to follow. We have developed a set of guidelines to help build a good scene. We call them the three C’s of improv.

Confirm

The first C stands for confirm. When opening a scene with your teammates, you should not just take the scene where you want it to go. You must listen to your team and say yes to their ideas. If someone claims that you are a band of pirates, you should confirm that claim by becoming a pirate. Saying yes to the ideas of others opens up countless possibilities for the scene.

Conflict

The second C stands for conflict. A scene will be pretty boring if nothing goes wrong for any of the characters. The best way to make a scene exciting is to introduce a problem that needs to be fixed. This gives the characters a reason to act in order to resolve the problem. It also provides a perfect way to end the scene. A good conflict should fit the scene well. If you are a Wild West sheriff, an appropriate conflict would be a train robbery or a saloon brawl. These conflicts fit the context of the Wild West and allow the sheriff to develop as a character.

Commit

The final C stands for commit. This is perhaps the most important step. In any scene, it is absolutely vital to commit to your character. If you are an evil scientist, you must make your audience believe that you are an evil scientist. If you give anything less than 100 percent, you will lose the audience and you will lose the scene. Committing to a character will transport the viewers to another world and allow you to create a captivating scene.

I believe everyone has the potential to be a great improviser. Mastering the three C’s of improv will certainly help to make a fun and exciting scene. However, it ultimately comes down to your willingness to go all in to make someone laugh. It may feel weird or embarrassing in the moment, but trust me, the joy and laughter of your audience makes it all worth it!


Johnny White

Mathematics, Class of 2018
Member of Unpland Improv
Intramurals team manager
Member of SEU Honors Program