Your Suggestion Makes a Dinosaur

Most improv shows begin with the solicitation of a suggestion.

Depending on your audience, you might get something great or, more likely, you’ll get an item of food or a body part normally covered by a bathing suit.

I’ve seen some teams try to steer the audience away from that by asking a different question.  “Name something that’s important to you,” or, “What’s your favorite song?” or, “What’s a favorite gift you’ve received?”

Regardless of how you get it, the suggestion is simply a jumping-off point.  If your show sucks, you can’t blame it on the suggestion.  After all, you don’t credit your suggestion for a good show, do you?

Think of your suggestion like the mosquito trapped in amber in “Jurassic Park.”  It’s your team’s job to suck out the dino DNA and build a bad-ass human-chomping dinosaur with it.

If the audience shouts, “Cow!” you could easily begin a scene with a cow.  That’s fine.  But what does “cow” mean to you?  Part of the food chain?  A hurtful slur toward a fat person?  A word we teach babies?  There’s more to “cow” than just “cow.”

If you were a painter or a novelist using a cow in your art, many viewers would try to surmise why you chose the cow.  It must be a symbol.  It must mean something.  Right?  It wasn’t selected at random.

Similarly, the suggestion from the audience should send you on an exploration on a theme.  They want to see you take the suggestion’s DNA and turn it into a dinosaur.  Harness your group’s unique, dynamic mind and build something ferocious.

Previously on the topic of suggestions…

Got an improv question?  E-mail me at boilingpointimprov[at]gmail.com

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