Magnet Dynamic Duos Class Notes

Instructor: Armando Diaz
Date Taken: August 2009

Inspired by the likes of 2-Square and TJ & Dave, I really wanted to try out 2-person improv.  Not only is it amazingly fun and challenging to do, it also helps you become a stronger improviser for any form.

The following notes are from my first class at The Magnet Theater. Learn more about the Magnet training program here.

The Dynamic Duo class is focused on teaching how to do a 2-person improv show. You sign up with a partner and work with them for 4 classes, and then do a 2-person show along with your fellow classmates.

Class #1

  • Two options for duo shows: 
  • (1) Long, slower paced, such as 1 scene with 2 characters 
  • (2) Faster paced, multiple scenes and multiple characters 
  • Starting slow helps you work on the fundamentals 
  • A 2 person scene has to be interesting. Try to find that first interesting thing
  • Be vulnerable & sensitive to everything your partner does 
  • Be aware of the subtext of your character’s choices 
  • Beginnings are 90% of the success of a scene 
  • Object work: make us see where you are 
  • We tend to favor dialog, don’t forget physicalization 
  • Your environment can inform your scene, can give you something to go back to 
  • You can have multiple characters in 1 environment 
  • Use different parts of the stage to define different parts of a location 
  • Having characters in a certain part of the stage makes it easier to go back to other characters 
  • For second beats, assume something has happened in between 
  • Your environment really helps establish where you are and is very helpful when you want to connect scenes 

Class #2 

  • Each scene you want to find something strong 
  • Always remember status 
  • The game deals with pattern of behavior (point of view) 
  • Don’t talk about a concept, explore it 
  • The most interesting part of any scene is the characters’ reactions to things in the scene 
  • Make a choice of who you are 
  • At the top of scenes, it’s even more important to make declarations 
  • Avoid telling the story of your character, show it 
  • There’s a tendency to want to describe or explain your game, but its more rewarding if you just do it 
  • The details can really tell you about yourself, scene, or partner 
  • Personal details make your characters come to life 
  • Specific details are less risky than generic details 
  • Your object work should be good enough to define your location without you having to verbalize it 
  • Your first beats of scenes should be separate and distinct. it  gives you more variety when you bring them together 
  • Opening options: monologue, documentary, ms jackson (hot spot based on suggestion), invocation

Class #3

  • Start with a want or destination 
  • Your first scene should give you lots of possibilities 
  • Start with relationship between 2 people 

Class #4

  • Don’t worry about where your scene is going or how funny it is, worry about knowing your character and your relationship 
  • The objects in your scene can be extensions or at least tell us more about your character 
  • Monoscenes can still have beats that just happen in real time 
  • Edit on a laugh. you can always come back. 
  • Make your characters more distinctive so you can easily recognize them 
  • When you leave a scene and come back, give yourself the gift of time lapse and be in the middle of something 

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drew tarvin

Andrew Tarvin is the world’s first Humor Engineer teaching people how to get better results while having more fun. He has worked with thousands of people at 250+ organizations, including P&G, GE, and Microsoft. He is a best-selling author, has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and TEDx, and has delivered programs in 50 states, 20+ countries, and 6 continents. He loves the color orange and is obsessed with chocolate.
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