Improv Group uses Psychological Tactics to Turn Up the Heat During Practice

Local improv group blacksnake has developed a training style called force-funny, where performers are put under extreme duress in an attempt to enhance their comedic abilities. Troupe leader Gwen Rollins learned these tactic from the masters at The Comedy School of Americas, a branch of The School of the Americas, which has taught authoritarian tactics to military leaders for decades.

The group must improvise for up to six hours on end, and subsequently they must sit and watch other local performers improvise. If a member does not comply, Rollins forces the group to immediately ostracize the him or her. Without resources, most shunned members resort to stand-up in order to survive.

Within the interminable practice, the entire group suffers when a singular member’s joke  bombs. For punishment, their torturer shows them a clip from an Anna Faris movie. The unfortunate member who looks away from the Faris clip must step into a “goalie” formation for the entirety of two hours, fielding three line scenes from the rest of the group. The goalie is forced to wear regulation hockey gear, based on International Ice Hockey Federation rules, and at one point the group throws imaginary pucks at the hapless individual.

As a result, the group has fostered a series of terrified members, who erratically throw out compulsory jokes. However, as many audience members sourly note, the tactics have not improved the quality of the jokes.


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