While prepping a workshop on status and game in comedy, I stumbled across this video. I’ve watched this a few times, and I’m starting to think that this is a script for a perfect improv scene. Here are my reasons:
- The game of scene of obvious and played aggressively. Cookie Monster wants cookies, but can’t have them. Nothing else is happening in the scene. When he realizes that he can’t have cookies, the scene ends. There’s no waste.
- The characters natural status’ are inverted. The Librarian, a person of power in the eyes of the audience (children), is not in control of the situation. Cookie is controlling the scene, and lowering the Librarian’s status with each move. The normal power structures are immediately subverted, without the need for explanation.
- We know who the characters are. Cookie is a familiar face, and the archetype of the “Shush!” Librarian is known. No exposition is needed.
- We know where the characters are. A full bookshelf, and a “Shush!” Librarian tell us all we need, there’s no wasted effort on an exterior shot or exposition.
- We know what the characters want. The Librarian wants quiet and order. Cookie wants, well, cookies. We’re aware of this after the first line in the scene - again there’s no wasted effort.
- It ends. The game has been heightened, the characters relationship has changed, the scene is now over. Surprisingly, knowing when to end a scene is a difficult skill to master.