by Tracy Johnson
Some personalities are better storytellers than others. That’s why it’s important to be a good partner and help a cohost tell their story.
You can improve those skills by participating in improv. Improv teams are trained to participate actively by paying close attention and responding in the moment. Each comment is a gift to be received and passed forward.
Here’s a classic example from Jeff & Jer.
Cast member Laura Cain is a great responder, but not the best storyteller. She needs help. And that’s the role of a partner or co-host. The mission is to fill in the gaps so the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts.
Laura is leading this break. Listen as she tells a story about her son, Charlie.
Listen to it again, and notice how Jeff and Jer both help Laura through the story. They prompt her with leading questions. When it starts to bog down, the show jumps in and helps advance the story. Everyone actively participates, staying out of the way while helping Laura tell it.
And, they demonstrate their personality during “her” story.
Here are a few other things about this break that stand out:
We learn about Laura’s character through a relatable experience. It’s something that happened to her as opposed to being something that is all about her. This is the fine line between sharing experiences and being self indulgent. It’s a perfect example of storytelling that connects and leaves the audience begging for more.
The story has great forward momentum without being rushed. The entire cast helping Laura tell her story without upstaging her. When it starts to bog down, someone moves it forward.
There are just enough details in the story to paint a picture without taking detours. Jeff talking about the “little buddy years” and Laura describing the muffins at Soup Plantation make it real and relatable.
The payoff is fantastic, putting an exclamation point on the break. It’s not only well prepared, but delivered perfectly.
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