I’m told you need to establish a relationship between characters for an improv scene to work. (Maybe advanced improvisers don’t need to explicitly define it, but I am not an advanced improviser.)

Also: status relationships (ex. parent and child, teacher and student, boss and employee) are difficult, and n00bs like me should avoid them.

[EDIT NOW THAT I AM WISER AND MORE EXPERIENCED: No. Status relationships are fine, as long as you aren’t bulldozing the other character. But instructional relationships, like a teacher and student, and transactional relationships, like buying coffee, are really hard (unless you find a way at the top of the scene to make it about those characters’ relationships to each other).]

In addition to all the other improv rules I’m trying to straighten out in my head, I wrack my brains trying to land on a suitable relationship, and I default to either (1) romantic, or (2) friends.

Of course you can work with just that. You refine the relationship as you play. But how do you refine it if, on the spot, you can’t think of anything deeper than that?

Dear reader, I know that you are quick-witted and empathetic, and you cringe that anyone would write this out, and it’s probably filled with mistakes and misconceptions, but here, to seed some ideas for myself, is a basic list of some relationships people can have:

  • Romantic:
    • Old married couple (in love? in hate?)
    • Newlyweds (in love? in hate?)
    • Second date
    • Seventeenth date
    • Goin’ steady
    • Engaged
    • On the verge of a breakup
    • Exes
    • Cheating lover(s)
    • Crush
  • Friends (or “friends”):
    • Roommates
    • Pal you haven’t seen since school (elementary, high, college, doctorate…)
    • Neighbors
    • Teammates
    • Besties!!
    • Awkward casual acquaintances who share a circle of friends but don’t have much in common themselves
    • Fellow parents (i.e. your kids know each other)
    • Work colleagues
    • Generic buddies (boring, but maybe that’s enough sometimes)
    • Crush
  • Not exactly friends:
    • Service job (clerk, waiter, barista/bartender, flight attendant, mover, hairdresser…)
    • Bully
    • Mortal enemies/ nemeses <– Why do you hate each other? Is hate even involved, or is it a family feud kinda thing?
    • Journalist/interviewee
  • Probably “status” (based on my understanding) but could certainly work if either of you knows what you’re doing:
    • Parent/child
    • Boss/employee
    • Teacher/student
    • Interviewer/interviewee
    • Celebrity/non-celebrity (reporter? fan? manager?)
    • Cool person/wannabe (same or similar dynamic as celebrity/fan)
    • Coach/player
  • Family, non-romantic:
    • Sibling
    • Cousin
    • Grandparent
    • Grandkid
    • Aunt/uncle
    • Long lost or separated parent/twin/sibling/child


Yeah this is dumb. But more importantly: Are there any obvious ones I’m missing?

I’ll see if I can work a couple of these into my next class.



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