Handy Improv Tips for Christmas Performers (part 3 of 3)

Improv Tips: part 1 of 3
Improv Tips: part 2 of 3
Improv Tips: part 3 of 3

Greetings and welcome to Part 3 of 3: Handy Improv tips for Christmas Performers.

7. Backstory fun. One simple trick to add some depth to your character improvisation is to fill in with back story. For example, Santa says, “Oh my, it’s important you go to bed on time on Christmas Eve so I can deliver my presents on time!” Mrs. Claus follows up with, “Oh yes! Do you remember back in 2007, when little Timmy Farnsworth stayed up until almost morning? Santa had to come all the way back from Hawaii to deliver his presents. My poor Santa came home with a sunburn and wearing sunglasses!” Almost any set-up of a statement can be followed with, “Do you remember?” or “You mean like the time…?” to cue the improvised history.

8. Re-enforcing. If Tippy the Elf turns to the audience and says “‘Mr. C. really likes his cookies!” Zippy the Elf can follow with, “Really, really likes his cookies!” Mrs. Claus adds, “And he really, really, really likes mine!” The rule of thumb is that “Three is the magic number.” Then move on. Repetition and rhyme make for a good story flow, either subtle or overt.

9. Always Build. While re-enforcing is fun, it can be overdone. Another option is to build on a statement. Look at these two examples, the first re-enforcing and the second building.

Mrs. Claus: “Last year, Zippy caught the Blue Gnu Flu!”
Tippy: “He was really sick. Bleh.”
Zippy: “I really, really was. Blech.”

Mrs. Claus: “Last year, Zippy caught the Blue Gnu Flu!”
Tippy: “And when he sneezed, there was glitter EVERYWHERE.”
Zippy: “At least it wasn’t as bad as the Tinsel tonsils! And I hate the way it made my ears wiggle!”

The difference between the two is that when we are building, we add new information while agreeing to the original premise. And in this case, we are adding backstory.

I hope you enjoyed these tips on improv. And if you have some topics you would like Christmas Performer Workshops to cover, please let me know. At Discover Santa in Branson, Santa True is offering several workshops, although I don’t know which ones will be chosen. They may include one class on Coaching and Feedback (very important for our field), another on Storytelling, one on Performance, the important skills for Staying in Character, and “Time to Shine” which is a workshop for female Christmas Performers. I hope to see you there.

I will also be offering pre-order sign-up if you are interested in either of my two upcoming books: The “Christmas Performers Handbook” and “The Winter Order” (an urban fantasy novel based on Christmas).

Thanks again,
Santa True
Christmas Performer Workshops, Putting the Christmas Heart in our Art!


Photo courtesy of Jennings Paige Photography

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