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How I plan an improv show & show warm up

Hi improv lovers,

When I hosted QueerProv last week, I set the theme - Telling Our Stories - and I set a goal to have the players bring themselves and their stories to the show. I had a theory it would loosen them up to play in the moment and relieve the pressure to be funny or to perform. It worked. We had a slam dunk show with hilarious and true moments that we all beamed about for three days.

My mission was to encourage true and confident moments on stage. Once I had this mission, I put games together in an order that asked each player a question to inspire the scenes in the games.

Here's the set list I assembled for the show and a detailed explanation of the warm up game. 


Telling Our Stories 
Welcome: Acknowledge audience. First timers? Where from?
Introduce Actors, ask for their full names.
Warm up: Home town impressions. Ask Actors for their Home towns. Prompt Home-town monologues as a character.
Game: Space Jump 1234321 - Suggestion: What happened to you this week? 
Game: Act Harder – Suggestion: Someone’s real job?
Game: Prompter Date – Suggestion: Real date story
Game: Scene three ways – Suggestion: Been on a trip? + Errand this week?
Game: Madrigal – Suggestion: Each actor share a goal you have.
Long Form: The actors ask me any question, I respond with a minute monologue. Taps and Sweeps for 10-15 minutes. 

Game: Innuendo
Wrap up show - Thank everyone, reintroduce cast, ask for donations, bow.

Here's the explanation of the warm up game that I played that you can use for workshops: 

Home town impressions

I used this to teach the workshop the day after using it in the show. Having the actors do impressions at the start of the show warmed them up to play characters in the show. 
It's also a great tool for workshops because participants get to anchor their characters in the safety of an impression - impersonating someone who actually exists. 

1. Instructions: Ask Actors for their Home towns. Get them to identify a person who was iconic or important to them in their home town. Ask them to think of 3 things that person might say. 
2. Activity: One at a time, actors turn away from the group/audience. They turn back around and adopt the physical and vocal traits of the character they chose. They do an impression of that person and share three ideas or points. They turn back away from the audience. 
3. Wrap: You can then transition and use these characters in a game like space jump or freeze tag. Emphasize that IMPRESSIONS MAKE IMPRESSIONS.... grounded characters can be born in impersonation.