In my drama class, I use videos to demonstrate how great actors use principles of acting and it almost turns into a master class. While there are many differences between being on the screen and being live on stage, they are great master classes.

I find Rickey Gervais’s webseries¬†Life’s Too Short – like a mine for these master classes on comedy. My middle school children are trying to work on comedy and improvisation. We are beginners at this, and I find that hte hardest to practice is the first and second rule of Improv

  1. Accepting the gift.
  2. Going with the attitude of Yes And!

Quiet often our own personal remarks short ended and end the scene, or worse – lead no where. Liam Neeson is a great example of this.

This whole sketch is full of pregnant pauses. In comedy, a pregnant pause is a technique of comic timing used to accentuate a comedy element. David Letterman (whom I love) has perfected the act of pregnant pause. In this, Ricky Gervais has used it to show discomfort as a character.

Liam shows how even a good improv actor can be dragged down if the basic ideas of improv are not followed.

In class:

  1. Talk to the students about the two rules of improv theatre
  2. Watch the sketch
  3. Discuss the different elements of comedy and identify them
  4. Ask students to identify what elements of improv are being used in the sketch.
  5. How is Liam resisting improvisation.
  6. Discuss what we do to take the story forward or not.

Have a look.

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