By | August 2, 2010




The following scene will be a musical.


A musical scene is an open scene that overlaid with occasional singing. The host and performers must know what a musical scene means to them in a show. Musical improv comedy is simultaneously the most loved and most abused element in the improv comedy.

Singing on stage is the terror of many performers. The audience really gets behind performers that sing on stage. Singing is respected, and if it can be done well it will be loved. A musical works best with musical instruments. Singing along with recorded music is more difficult and less magical.

A few simple considerations, aka professionalism, can prevent the majority of horrors that are musical improv. In the end what works for you and your audience is all that matters.

Going A capella?

A cappella means in the church. In the far back days in the church meant no instruments. So if you are going A capella you do not have any muscial accompaniment. There are song styles that lend themselves to A capella. Plain Songs, Madrigals and Do Run Run for instance. These styles can work well without being accompanied with a musical instrument. Most houses are lo fi and should stick to songs styles that do not depend on accompaniment.

What is keeping your company?

Consider your musical accompaniment and how that tool will affect the music you can perform. The best instrument for accompanying an improv comedy musical is the piano played by a live music improviser. Other instruments are possible but suffer severe limitations.

Guitars have a limited range for supporting an improv comedy musical. Try to use them for musical genres that support guitars, like country and western songs, folk songs, etc. I would be an unnecessary challenge to try and use a guitar to create a lounge singer vibe.

The accompanist is an improviser in all respects and their music should be considered offers like any other offer. In turn the music improviser needs to listen and accept the offers from performers.

Are the songs going to contain lyrics?

If the songs are going to contain comedy lyrics that you want to be heard the host, accompanist and performers must engage in a sound check well before the show and Musical scene. Songs without lyrics are fine as well. The voices and instruments must be considered all worth hearing. It is most common to have instruments completely drown out the voices. In this case there is absolutely NO point in doing a musical. Really none at all.

What is the song cue?

In this structure a musical is not a continuous song. It is not an opera. A musical requires a narrative with characters. There will be moments of no singing that leads to opportune moments for songs to appear. The host, musical improviser and performers should know their cues for start and end of songs. In a Musical songs are a discrete package that advances or explores the narrative at hand.

Common errors.

Being hi fi when you are lo fi. Not doing a sound check. Never stopping the song. Ignoring narrative. Drowning out lyrics with instruments.


  • None


  • Opera – all dialogue is sung
  • Sounds Like a Song – performer is endowed the opportunity to sing.


  • None.