Dramatic Foolery

How to Steal Material Without Getting Caught

PART ONE: The New Switcharoo—Replacing Props (11/01)

1. Get a blank notebook and a not-blank pen. On the top of the first page write QUESTIONS, then somewhere in the middle of the notebook write IDEAS on the top of the page. Dog-ear this page so you can find it easily when you think of ideas to write down.

2. Question #1
"What other props can I use in place of the props in the gag?"
Write this down on the questions page.
List 10 different objects.
Or use these 10:

alarm clock
trash can
light bulb
wrapping paper

3. Pick an object from the list.

4. Replace one of the props from the example gag or your own chosen gag(hint: for this example it’s probably easiest to replace the coat hanger. On the other hand, your imagination may stretch more if you replace the coat. After some practice with this game, try replacing both props).

5. Act out the gag using the new prop or props. If you don’t have the props or it’s technically impossible to pull a clock out of a banana, for example, pantomime the object or objects. If you don’t have the space or privacy to act out the gag, visualize yourself performing it.

6. This improvisation session is akin to a game I played when I was a kid where I would quickly doodle an abstract squiggle, look at it, and add to the squiggle, trying to make it into something concrete: maybe it suggested a face or an airplane by it’s shape. By taking the gag out of its context, the new situation now needs a justification that can be achieved by physical doodling—Barry Lubin calls this action noodling.

7. Whenever an idea occurs to you, or just happens, write the idea down on the ideas page of your notebook. Sometimes the ideas will be flowing so fast that you’ll only have time to jot a keyword or two. Hopefully you’ll remember what the keyword meant. You might also want to have some kind of shorthand code for the question/exercise/prop this idea is related to. I personally like to number my ideas so I can reach a certain quota. The more ideas you list, the greater the chance you’ll come up with something useful.

What follows is a description of me playing this game using the example gag. You get to vicariously observe my process with all it’s repetitiveness, laziness, and blocks. I make no claims that great ideas were produced, but I did get ideas that I would like to build upon.

Next: Sample Improv

Back to Intro

Copyright ©1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 by Drew Richardson