Posts tagged improvised dialogue

“It’s not a toomah!”

“La-dee-da, la-dee-da.”

“Coffee’s for closers.”

“Is it safe?”

“May the Force be with you.”

“Big gulps, huh?”

When you read those words, I know you heard the actor’s voice in your mind. Not just the timbre, but the emotion.

A few simple words can sum up a scene, a character, a play, or sometimes, a whole TV series. And as Schwarzenegger proved, you don’t even have to speak a language fluently to make a lasting impact.

Photo © Klapi

Photo © Klapi

While we don’t recommend you rely on catchphrases as a crutch, they can often be useful in defining your character.

The next time you blurt out something on stage, take note of what you said and how you said it.

A word, a phrase, or even a sound (like Annie Hall’s “La-dee-da”) are so much more powerful when accompanied by emotion.

You can explore and heighten whatever you said, or simply repeat it.

For two extreme examples of character and catchphrases, check out Tommy Wiseau’s disaster epic, The Room, and Community‘s Magnitude character.

Improv Side Note: Jack Nicholson’s “Heeeeeeeere’s Johnny!” from The Shining and Robert de Niro’s “You talkin’ to me?” from Taxi Driver were improvised. Now try to imagine their characters without them. Impossible!

“The best thing about improv is that no matter how bad your show is, it’s only 30 minutes, and never exists again. The worst thing is no matter how good your show is, it’s only 30 minutes, and never exists again.” – Mick Napier

A great improv show is kinda like The Beatles At Shea Stadium: you really had to be there. Still, we wanted to try and capture some of that genius, so last year we started a blog called Improv Dialogue. Here are some favourite lines so far:

“The good thing about ice cream is, you can keep it in your freezer all year round.”

“I think it’s smart not to serve decaf. Fuck those people.”

“Of the two of us, I give off the greater crazy vibe.” “That’s the most lucid thing you’ve ever said.” “I didn’t say it. My mouth did.”

“Did you want that in twenties? Fifties? Hundreds?” “Twelves.”

“It’s horrible. It’s like somebody carved a turkey and then put it back together.”

“Minnesota is like the Canada of America.”

“If anyone out there has any EMS training…any first aid training…any training… Seriously people, if you can just get to New York City.”

“That takes me back to a summer I spent naked in a ravine.”

“Captain, you’re staring into space again.” “Sorry, I thought I saw an iceberg. I’ve crashed so many planes into icebergs it’s not funny.”

“Before you go, can you just one last time…move a crate of fish for me?”

“Just because a bunch of women get together in a room doesn’t mean we’re gonna watch Sex & The City and lament about how we don’t need men in our lives.”

“I’m gonna get rid of the sperm anyway. I’ll put it in her, or I’ll put it in a sock.”

“If this compass is correct, north is everywhere.”

“Come back to the city, where you drink coffee to wake up, drink alcohol to go to sleep, watch TV to live someone else’s life, and die of cancer from using a cell phone.”

“I love franchised shows.” “Yeah, Special Victims, Criminal Intent…” “Which is the one with the guy who used to be good?”

Improvised by: Rob Ariss Hills, Conor Bradbury, Jason Donovan, TJ Jagodowski, Cameron Algie and Steve Cole, Matt Folliott and Isaac Kessler, Unknown Improviser, Adam Cawley, Jess Grant, Alex Tindal, Devon Hyland, Simon Pond, Adrianne Gagnon, David Razowsky, Michael Graham, Kevin Whalen, David Pasquesi and TJ Jagodowski

Photo © Crista Flodquist

Heard some great stuff? Tweet (with improviser credits, if possible) @improvdialogue.