Here’s my latest pairing of a helpful game with my exploration of one of the “Ten Commandments” of Theatresports.
As I noted in my earlier entry this week here, while we discourage gagging on the improv stage, there are games where word play and whimsy are required, hence this week’s choice of My Movie, My Movie, My Movie.
Players form a line at the edge of the stage and are led by a conductor (another player or the host for the event). A movie category, style or similar prompt is obtained. Players, when signaled, all chant “My Movie, My Movie, My Movie,” and then the conductor nominates a random player to offer an original title that meets the given categories. The conductor might ask for additional information, and then the chant repeats with a new title being provided. The game typically rotates through three or four different audience prompts.
The audience provides the prompt of “Science Fiction” and the initials “D.C.” The host kneels in front of the players who have formed a line and begin by chanting “My Movie, My Movie, My Movie.” As each player is nominated they provide a new movie title:
Player A: “Deep Cosmos”
Player B: “Desperate Computers”
Player C: “Dance of the Cyborgs…”
There isn’t a lot of time to think and plan in this game which is a large part of it’s charm and gift. Remember the longer that you stall as a player, the more time the audience has had to come up with something with which to compare your idea! Encourage players to throw themselves at the titles: often the best are truly formulated syllable by syllable before the audience’s eyes. Most players I know actually find the addition of the initials as a handle more liberating that thwarting as it provides some boundaries to create within.
Traps and Tips
1.) Use the chant to keep energy and attack high. It’s a fun gimmick of the game and stops it from becoming too ponderous so really embrace the chant between each newly offered title.
2.) Explore the potentials of the titles. The conductor can request additional information for titles that are particular fun or ripe with potential. We’ve asked for descriptions of the movie poster, the tagline, the elevator pitch, and the like, and will often end the game as a whole with a quickly staged climactic scene or similar.
3.) Pace the addition of handles so as not to overwhelm. It’s helpful to gently crank up the level of challenge. Perhaps start with one initial and a style, and then raise the bar to two or three initials. As I’ve noted above, in my experience, at least one initial seems to aid in the creative process and most players struggle with an opening round that has little or no prompt to inspire the choices.
4.) Don’t forget charm and callbacks. Players can really make rather mundane titles fun and memorable with added playfulness, and the format invites the discovery of patterns and games. A well-timed callback to a previous title will often provide a strong out.
5.) Be careful of outstaying your welcome. Be cautious of letting rounds loiter too long. We often use this game in our version of Gorilla Theatre at SAK Comedy Lab so there are just three of us playing with the director serving as the conductor. We might get through the company once or twice before changing it up with a new audience suggestion.
This is such a fun high-energy addition to a playlist. We play it quite frequently in our Gorilla Theatre show but usually with some frame that shakes it up a little. I’ve done “Deal Breakers” where we jammed movie titles and then, when asked, players had to provide the element or casting choice that turned the movie sour. We’ll also change the focus from movies on occasion: one of my teammates does a “My Cocktail” version which has been particularly memorable where we have to come up with original cocktail names and then list the ingredients if we stumble on a winner!
Connected Concept: Commandment #4