Game of the Scene Workshop


In this workshop, our goal is to practice improvising short funny comedy scenes.

To do that, we will learn to play “The Game” of the scene - it is a structured, step-by-step approach improvisers use to create comedy. Below you’ll see the explanation of the key concepts you need to understand to play The Game, and a list of exercises we’ll practice during our workshop.

Come join our Discord Community to play with us.

The Game

The Game is a single comedic idea the scene is focused on, the core premise that summarizes what’s funny about the scene in one sentence. It is a pattern of unusual behavior, justified in a believable way, which we will gradually heighten to make the scene progressively more absurd.

Finding and Playing the Game

Base Reality - Who, What, Where

In this exercise we’ll learn to establish the “Base Reality”, the key elements necessary for any scene:

  1. Who the characters are, and the relationship between them.
  2. Where the scene takes place.
  3. What the characters are doing.
Exercise: Yes, And
Exercise: Establish the Base Reality
Exercise: Play Believable Characters

The First Unusual Thing

In this section we’ll practice discovering what’s funny about the scene and agreeing on it.

Our goal is to come up with The Game - a pattern of unusual behavior. The Unusual Thing is the first element in your scene that breaks from the expectations set by the Base Reality. The Unusual Thing introduces the absurd behavior or a piece of information, and the rest of the scene will be focused on heightening and exploring this absurdity (we won’t introduce more random unrelated absurd ideas).

Discovering the Unusual Thing
Framing the Unusual Thing
Exercise: Creating the Unusual Thing using Strong Moves
Exercise: Discovering the Unusual Thing Organically, and Framing it

Justifying The Unusual Thing

The purpose of justifying the unusual thing is to support the reality of the scene, to make the absurd believable. Our goal is to provide some logic, philosophy, rationale that justifies the absurd behavior, explains why the character is making absurd choices.

How to Justify
Exercise 1: Accusation
Exercise 2: Premise Lawyer


We use Heightening to build on the First Unusual Thing, to turn it into a pattern of increasingly unusual behavior (The Game). Each heightened game move deviates further away from the expected pattern of reality, we repeatedly hit the comedic idea, making the scene progressively more absurd.

How to Heighten
Exercise 1: What if?
Exercise 2: Tall Tales
Exercise 3: Pitching Scenes

Playing the Game

In this exercise, we will combine all the skills we have practiced to improvise comedy scenes. Two Players improvise a short (3-5 minute) scene using all the principles we have learned

To summarize, our scene should have a repeated pattern of unusual behavior (the game). Every time we revisit the unusual thing, it should get more exaggerated (heightening), and every moment in between should ground it in reality (justifying).

Typical scene structure looks like this:

  • Use “Yes, And” to build on top of each other’s ideas and set up the Base Reality.
  • Discover and Frame the First Unusual Thing.
  • Justify it, ground the absurdity in reality. If this unusual thing is true, then why is it true?
  • Heighten the absurdity 3-5 times. If this unusual thing is true, then what else is true?
  • End the scene once we have heightened the game as much as possible, and made it as absurd as it can be.
Common scene types

Advanced Concepts

The following is a collection of more advanced exercises I want us to practice.

[Work in Progress]

Resting the Game

In the scene, you don't want to make exclusively game moves. After making a few moves we want to "rest the game" - set the game aside, return to the base reality, and explore it a bit more.

In this exercise we'll play the scenes, but once our game has been established, we'll practice deliberately setting the game aside, and going back to the base reality for a few lines. Repeat it several times - make a game move, go back to base reality, make a game move, go back to base reality, etc.