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
- Accepting the gift.
- 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.
- Talk to the students about the two rules of improv theatre
- Watch the sketch
- Discuss the different elements of comedy and identify them
- Ask students to identify what elements of improv are being used in the sketch.
- How is Liam resisting improvisation.
- Discuss what we do to take the story forward or not.
Have a look.