The Armando / True Stories

The Armando is a popular and well known long-form improv format used around the world.

Also known as True Stories at Hoopla (as that name sets the tone for the show well), or as a Commando if featuring multiple monologues.


A guest monologist, or one of the cast, is given a one word inspiration from the audience. They then tell a true life story or improvised monologue inspired by that word. The cast are listening and remembering bits of the monologue and various themes and patterns and fun things.

After the monologue the cast improvise the rest of the cast improvise various scenes inspired by the monologue. Some scenes directly recreating stories from the monologue, some tangential, some exploring games, themes and patterns from the monologue, and some scenes using locations or characters from the monologue as starting points for new scenes.

Every couple of scenes there may be a new monologue, either inspired by the original word or by something that happened in the scene, or it can just continue straight through from the opening monologue.

The scenes don’t have to connect together but they often do, with themes and patterns emerging as the show goes on and call backs to earlier scenes.

At Hoopla courses we tend to keep the monologues quite short, and the monologues tend to be true stories from the person’s life.


  • Lots of scenes from just one opening monologue.
  • Monologues coming back every couple of scenes, either inspired by the initial suggestion or by something that happened in the scene.
  • Either just one person does monologues or anyone from the cast can.

Hoopla version: True Stories

At Hoopla for end of course shows and at teacher shows we tend to call this format True Stories as it helps the audience understand it, and tend to play it with the various choices:

  • Anyone from cast can be the opening monologist.
  • Monologues are true stories from the person’s life and don’t have to be funny.
  • Monologues are quite short.
  • First couple of scenes are quite obvious and close to the monologue, and scenes can get more tangential as you go.
  • Every couple of scenes or so, or whenever energy of the format dips, anyone else can grab an inspiration from one of the scenes and use to inspire a new monologue or go to original suggestion or get a new suggestion.


It’s name comes from The Armando Diaz Experience, Theatrical Movement and Hootenanny, a long running long-form show at IO Chicago and IO West theatres created back in 1995.

The original monologist was Armando Diaz, the show was originally created and cast by Adam McKay and Dave Koechner, and the original director was Del Close.

The show also inspired ASSSSCAT at UCB in New York.




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