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Friday, November 14, 2008


Ad libbing means you make it up as you go along. If an actor leaves the written script and adds their own words. Its short for the latin phrase ad libitum...meaning without constraint. As in performing without a script would be ad libbing, making it up as you go along, catching it on the fly. As Webster puts it--to improvise--which means you have to do something not prepared or scripted. If you find yourself at a loss for words you should come up with something preferringly funny, or even gestures. If your job calls for being in front of audiences most of the time, an ad-libbing skill would come in handy every now and then in tight situations. It means to make up words, phrases, whole lines, even up to or surpassing 6-8 mins in your routine. If you forget your lines in a program or show. The main concept is to be on your toes at all times and ready for anything, like this, should it occure.
First let me clear some misnomer. Comedians do not walk out on stage open their mouths and say the first thing that comes to them, whether it be banter with the aud or a comedic routine.
Comedians do not create their act 100% as they go along. The art is not to make it up on the spot, but rather to make it appear as if everything is made up on the spot. Here's one way to do that.

Sometimes an audience member will ask a question or yell out something and you just happen have a bit in your routine scheduled for later, but that fits in with their comment. Jump immediately to it and do that part of your prepared act. If you have another chunk of material that fits in, do it as well to boost laughs even if you hadn't planned on using it. So if you have a routine that is set, upset it to fit the time. You might have to drop out some of your planned routine to make this work, but you look better for it. And it keeps you in the alotted time frame. With ad libbing loop back to where you left off. Must say that this takes experience, don't attempt this unless your well prepapred to do so.

This sets the pros apart from the beginners, no not the ability to make it up as you go along but to be able to dig into your routine where ever and when ever and be able to resume the routine by working your ad lib to smoothly get back. Its called "In The Moment" and a great comedian Lenny Bruce was responsible for creating this style.

When its possible, answer the audience's questions and ad lid your way back, the important thing here is to respond to the audience. When you get an unplanned comment from an listener and you can respond with a memorized, but appropriate chunk, audience members will leave the venue thinking you are a comedy genius. Because they saw you "improvise" a one, three, six, whatever minute bit in response to an on-the-spot-comment. You had to be "making it up" cause how could you "know" that audience member was gonna say that? The important thing to remember here is no comedian MAKES UP EVERYTHING ON THE SPUR OF THE MOMENT!!Not even the most seasonned...

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