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Eight is NEVER Enough's Improv Study Guides

How to Improvise: PANTOMIME

Pantomime is the non-verbal communication and action in a scene. You may best
understand pantomime by thinking of a MIME, or silent film performer. Mimes create
entire works without words. Using their imagination, they endow air with shape and
weight. The audience can see the cup, flower, furniture or other object the Mime sees.
The trick to creating great pantomime is to further endow the imaginary object with mood
and emotion. Seeing how the character feels and reacts to the object sells the illusion. In
Improvisation, we create entire worlds using pantomime. I recommend taking a class in
Mime techniques for every comedian and/or dramatic performer.

THE STOP Every pantomime should involve the action of THE STOP. As the player touches
an imaginary object, the entire body stops and focuses on the object. In the moment, the
body senses the weight and texture of the object. To fully sell the illusion, breathe in an
emotion. Happy, sad, blah. All together there is a sense of LIFT.

THE AH-HA MOMENT Before touching the imaginary object, try seeing it first. Similarly,
perform a STOP that says to the audience, “I see …� or “I hear� (something,
someone). This is also known as a “TAKE�.

TALKING HEADS: Scenes without pantomime and action become “TALKING HEADS�
two or more people just talking. This is rarely exciting. This usually comes form actors
trying way to har to THINK of something to say. Keep and action going and the characters
will do the work. AVOID scenes of TALKING HEADS.

EXERCISE 1) PICKING UP A FLOWER: Start standing neutral. STOP ONE – See the flower.
STOP TWO – touch the flower with two fingers. STOP THREE – Pluck the flower by the
stem from its roots. STOP FOUR – Smell the flower. Finish with a reaction (Ah that
smells good OR uh-oh I have horrible allergies)

EXERCISE 2) PICKING UP A GLASS/CUP: Similar to the flower, see it, touch it, pick it up. But
every cup/glass is different. Try picking up a coffee cup. Fast food soda. Fancy dinner
goblet. Etc. See if you notice how you react to the type, size and weight of each cup.

EXERCISE 3) Build a room! One player enters a blank performance space. Performing a
basic task, the player establish at least one piece of furniture defining the space. After 20-
30 second the player exits the room. Player two enters the space, performing a new task
and adding a new piece of furniture (or appliance etc). Player two has to honor best
possible the location, size and quality of anything player one established (REMEMBER
YES AND).

EXERCISE 4) PBS TALK SHOW – Think Charades. Two players perform interview scene.
One is the author; the other a talk show host. A third player performs the sign language
interpretation for the show. But this player does not know actual sign language. Rather
he/she acts out the scene. Use big physical actions to represent people action etc.

FURTHER STUDY: Try handling real objects. Get a feel for how the weight makes the
entire body adjust. How does the texture effect how you feel? Finally do you have any
emotional connection to the object?

FROM THE PRO’s: Practice the infamous DOUBLE TAKE: See something. Turn away.
Realize what you saw. Look again but this time bigger. BEWARE THE TRIPLE TAKE: Very
dangerous and know to cause neck injury. LOL

Click HERE to learn about taking improv classes in NYC with Eight is Never Enough.

Articles and Improv Handbook by Walt Frasier . Mr Frasier has appeared on film, TV,
Commercials and the Live theater and is currently the director of intruction for the
COMEDY HALL OF FAME FOUNDATION. See Walt Frasier live in Times Square and touring
nationwide in Improv Comedy Troupe EIGHT IS NEVER ENOUGH.
Improv Handbook

Improv Performance
Tips:

Handbook Home

Why study improvisation?

I want to improvise
- Getting started

Teamwork in Improv

The Responsible Performer

The Performers Journal

Improv Warm Up Games

Improv Guidelines
& Techniques:

Rule #1 "Yes AND"

No Questions. No Blocks

Pantomime

Setting Up Your
Scene:

List of Ask Fors

Creating a Character

Creating a Situation

Creating a Setting
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