Improv game: two or more players enact a scene. At any time, an offstage player or emcee calls out a character's name, at which point that character sings their innermost thoughts to the audience. The other characters do not hear the song.

The game is charming, given a decent musician and enthusiastic singers, but often improvisers fail to acknowledge the premise of the game.

The premise—it's built into the title, for Pete's sake— is the inner monologue. The game relies on the theatrical aside, a dramatic tool that affords the actor the chance to convey to the audience (in musical form) a character's internal monologue--information which is not otherwise obvious.

The aside is a powerful tool for an improviser: it adds depth to character, may reveal backstory, and moves the narrative forward. Sadly, in this game both neophyte and experienced performers often use the call to sing to merely express in song existing information already generated.

Actor A: "Freddy, did you finish typing those reports?"
Actor B: "Yes, Mr. Johnson, I've got them right here!"
Emcee: "Freddy!"
Actor B, singing: "It’s clear, I've got the reports right here/I've been typing for what seems like a year."
In this example, the dramatic arc of the scene has been halted for a theatrical gimmick. Little has been added to the story.

Granted, for the audience, the hook of the game is seeing improvisers called out to sing on the spot. The improvisers are rewarded with laughter and applause for singing enthusiastically, finding a rhyme. But playing the game at this level keeps improvisation a zany circus of stupid human tricks instead of a tool to create spontaneous, vivid theatre.

In the following alternative examples, I suggest choices which make better use of the theatrical aside.

Actor A: "Freddy, have you finished typing those reports yet?" Actor B: "Yes, Mr. Johnson, I've got them right here!"
Emcee: "Freddy!"
Actor B, singing: "Why can't he see how my heart aches?/ I'll love this man no matter what it takes!"
or: "I hate this man with a passion, and though murder's not the fashion, I long to kill... my boss!"
or : "Soon I'll quit this job and start my career/ as an Andean explorer and I'll move far from here..."
Any of these possibilities not only reveal an inner life of the character, but present new information to the scene, which the actors can use to move forward. In addition, the revelation of this information to the audience has created dramatic tension: the information within the scene is still unspoken. Songs called for later in the scene can also create satisfying dramatic resolutions, as their revelations confirm or transform narrative offers from earlier.

A common technique to end the scene on a crowd-pleasing note is for the emcee to call for a duet or group song in which all characters sing (in counterpoint) a reprise of their respective songs or their new inner thoughts to the audience.

Variation: Actor Inner Song-alogue. Performers sing their own innermost thoughts, instead of those of the characters. This can be hit-or-miss, depending on the mood of the improvisers and the audience. Inner thoughts expressed about fear, sexual attraction, self-loathing, and/or self-congratulation can be hilariously funny—they can also spoil the mood of the show if the audience finds the revelations too painful or mean-spirited.

Sources:
Andrew Fox, “The Indispensable Game Breakdown, “ Oak Park ComedySportz Web Site. <http://www.geocities.com/ophs_csz/Gamebreakdown.html> (30 March 2006)
Randy Dixon, ed. “The Living Playbook.” Unexpected Productions Web Site. 2001. <http://www.unexpectedproductions.org/new/playbook/playbook.html> (30 March 2006)

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