Use Badprov to Make Goodprov

One of my favorite warm-ups was introduced to me by Adina Gillett in her Performance Series Class at Jet City Improv. It’s not one I pull out of my bag often, because I’m worried that overuse would cause it to lose its effectiveness, but it’s given a huge boost to a couple Interrobang rehearsals over the years. I’ve found it most effective as the first or second warm-up of the night. It’s useful for starting things off at a high energy level, and also to kick off a rehearsal positively after having had a more difficult rehearsal previously. The two specific instances I can recall were the first rehearsal after a highly technical rehearsal that had been frustrating, and a rehearsal in which it appeared that folks had low energy coming in the door.

The exercise? Badprov. Put the improvisers in two lines, and tell them to do the absolute worst improv they’ve ever done. Every improviser of at least moderate experience level has strong ideas on what constitutes bad improv. This is their chance to wallow in it. One improviser from each line will step forward, and the two improvisers are to do a terrible improv scene. Director/instructor should call out “next!” fairly quickly—length-wise, these scenes are similar to scenes in Freeze Tag. Players go to the ends of the lines and the next two step forward to start another terrible scene.

There are a few things I love about this warm-up:

  1. Because the improvisers have not only been given permission to be terrible, they’ve been outright told to be terrible, they’re freed from being too much in their heads. Consequently,
  2. They commit with huge energy, and
  3. The scenes they create tend to be hilarious.

The two rehearsals I’m remembering were among my favorites we’ve had. I can still remember individual moments of brilliance from the work that followed Badprov in both rehearsals.

Strongly recommended for any time you feel like your group is getting into a rut, or feeling frustrated. I can’t thank Adina enough introducing this game to me.

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