Glossary of Terms

ACCEPTING: The act of saying “yes” to your scene partner’s offers and endowments

ARMANDO: [Format] a longform structure that has a monologist at the center of it telling true stories from their life to inspire the improv.

BASE REALITY: The context of an improvised scene. It’s what the scene is “about”. It consists of Who (Relationship, Characters), Where (Location), and What (Something that is happening) Example: Two friends at a baseball stadium cheering for opposite teams.

CHARACTER: (the Who) The role or part you’re playing in the scene. It’s an imaginary person (or not) that you are pretending to be. Characters have a point of view (POV) and philosophy they live by. Sometimes a character is an archetype like in movies or books or TV shows (i.e. clueless step-dad, overbearing mother, motivational coach). Characters can be archetypes of people but never stereotypes.

C.R.O.W.E.: Another way of defining Base Reality. It stands for Character, Relationship, Objective, Where, Emotion. 

DENIAL: Saying no to or not accepting your scene partners offers and endowments. It is not good to deny the Base Reality. 

EDIT: The act of ending a scene or pointing a scene in a new direction. Examples: Sweep Edits (End the current scene to prompt the start of the next one.) Tag Out (Tapping a player on the shoulder to take them out of the scene and put yourself in.)

ENDOWMENT: When your scene partner says something about your character (Who). Example: “Honey, I bought a new car.” The initiator has established that your character is a spouse or partner. Endowments are Gifts that should be accepted.

EXERCISE: A Game you play to teach different improv disciplines. It could look like a scene with a defined structure or beats. It may look like weird performance art. 

FOCUS: 1. Which character or scene the audience and/or other characters are paying attention to on stage. Usually the person who is speaking. It’s important to share focus on stage with your fellow players. 2. The act of not thinking. Listening with your whole self ready to act and respond. 

FORM: (FORMAT) A Structure in which an improvisation is practiced and played. I.e. The Harold. The Monoscene. The Deconstruction. The Armando. 

GAME: 1. A Form of play with designated rules. 2. The GAME of the Scene is a pattern agreed upon by the players in which the scene's structure of heightening and exploring is defined. 

HAROLD: [Format]

INITIATE: To start an improvised scene either with character dialogue, spacework, objectwork, or emotion.


LONG FORM: An improvisation devised from a single suggestion or source of inspiration at the top of the show

MIRROR: To reflect or match what your scene partner is doing.

MONTAGE: [Format]

OBJECT WORK: Pantomiming of imaginary props and objects in a scene.

OFFER: Any dialogue or action that advances a scene.

PLAYING TO THE TOP OF YOUR INTELLIGENCE: reacting to things on stage like you would in real life. It means playing the truth of the scene, instead of going for quick and easy laughs.

RELATIONSHIP (WHO): How the characters in a scene know each other

RESPOND: to react to an offer by Yes, and or playing to the top of your intelligence. 

SHORT FORM: An improvised game based on a series of suggestions. A short form improv show is a show devised of short form games.

SPACE WORK: The relationship with players and the imaginary environment such as furniture, doors, cabinets etc.

SUGGESTION (GET): Prompts from the audience for improvisation. A single word, a story, a memory - anything can inspire your work. Honor the suggestion. Respect it. Thank the audience member who gave it.

STATUS: A Character’s sense of self-worth defined as High or Low.

SWEEP EDIT: Editing a scene to end and to move on to a new scene. Demonstrated by an actor quickly striding down-stage of the players. “Running across the front of the stage”. 

TAG OUT: A scene edit in which one player replaces one or more other players in a scene. Demonstrated by tapping a player on the shoulder or waving them ‘away’ depending on yours and their position on stage.

VOICE OF REASON: (Formerly “Straight Man”) The Character in the scene who grounds the absurdity or unusual behavior in reality. The Voice of Reason is not there to DENY the unusual thing, but rather calls it out. The Voice of Reason is curious and kind. They are interested in the why and the how. 

WALK-ON: A scene edit in which a new player enters the scene. Example: Two people start a scene and they are dining in a restaurant. Possible walk-ons: Server, Maitre D, Manager, Chef, Health Inspector, Musician, Ex-partner, First Grade Teacher. It’s important that the two people who start the scene establish the base reality BEFORE a walk-on happens.  

WARMUP: A game or exercise that gets you ready for improv: stretch, focus, getting silly.

YES, AND: The building block of improvising. Accepting your scene partners offers and adding your own.