Exercises help to foster improv skills


At Rensselaer’s improv comedy group, “Sheer Idiocy,” there is no business but funny business. Freshmen participating in the related Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond day trip were given the stage for a variety of comical games and skill-building exercises. They worked all day in the Darrin Communications Center on Wednesday, August 24th building their improv skills, building complexity in their performance, and practicing scene-setting. The exercises included “Gibberish,” “Party Quirks,” and “One-Word Story.”

In the game “Gibberish,” the comedians must hold a conversation until one participant gives a signal to start speaking nonsense, after which the whole conversation must be carried out with random mouth-flapping. The tone of the conversation switches from serious to ridiculous in an instant. This particular act was a hit with the crowd, producing applause and rippling laughter throughout the McNeil Room.

“Party Quirks” is an improv exercise where one participant acts as a party host who must guess the quirk of each of their three party guests while simultaneously hosting the party. Members of the audience assign quirks to the three “party guests” while the fourth member of the routine, the host, stood out of earshot of the audience. One “guest” has a physical quirk, another has a mental quirk, and the last has a reactionary quirk. The party guests and host then haphazardly interact for a couple minutes, expressing their assigned quirks to a comically excessive degree. The host must maintain character while investigating the guests’ odd character traits, then guess what those quirks are. This was an especially entertaining bit, met with a positive reception.