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Improv Comedy

  • By: Matt Fotis
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Built out of the theater games originated by Viola Spolin, improvisational comedy is a system of creativity that focuses on the cooperation of a group of players to create completely original performances based on set structures and rules that can be performed spontaneously in front of an audience or used as a means for generating scripted material. This entry gives a brief history of improv, explains the “Yes, and …” concept, and defines the three genres of improvisation.

Brief History

Although improvisation is rooted in the commedia dell’arte, the most prevalent form of improv performed today originated in the 1950s with the advent of the Compass Players. Founded by David Shepherd to be a theater of, for, and by the people, the Compass Players performed scenario ...

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