This exercise is the ultimate way to fully understand making each other look good.
One improvisers is deliberately being a “bad” improviser in the scene by blocking ideas, being unhelpful, being negative. Whatever they think of as “bad” improv is that is what they do.
Their scene partner will attempt to still make the scene work.
Often when first played the “good” improviser will accidentally try to make the scene work by forcing ideas, repeatedly saying the same offer to force it through, or disagreeing with their scene partner’s blocks. Weirdly this is also actually “bad” improv behaviour. Eventually the person in the “good” role learns to relax and not treat the other person as doing “bad” improv at all and instead treats everything they are doing as an offer.
With lots of practice improvisers also realise that it is actually impossible to block things on the emotional and physical level. If you offer a hug and they decline, that’s an interesting scene. If you say you love them and they say they don’t, that’s an interesting scene.
The end process of this is understanding the true meaning of “there’s no right or wrong in improv” and “make each other look good”.
Improviser A: Good morning, I thought we could go on a picnic, it’s such a lovely day. (opening offer trying to be positive)
Improviser B: It’s not the morning! (blocking)
Improviser A: Oh gosh you’re right, I’m so sorry I must have overslept, it’s the jet lag. (incorporating the block as if it is an offer)
Improviser B: But you haven’t been on a jet, you hate flying. (trying to block but notice they are engaging)
Improviser A: I do, I get jet lag so badly I just go it from the commute home on the train last night. Look I feel like I’ve started on the wrong foot and you seem really upset with me. (incorporating the block and justifying it into the scene, then turning things onto the emotional level to bring the other person into the scene)
Improviser B: I’m not upset with you. (attempting to block, but it’s actually a line totally in synch with the scene)
Improviser A: That’s great, I thought you were, I just care about you a lot. I wanted today to be special. And I feel like an idiot for being late.
- Make each other look good.
- Accepting and building.
- Incorporating mistakes and blocks.
Inspired by Keith Johnstone’s block/unblock exercises and then modified by Hoopla.