Let’s Be Serious (for 30 seconds)

by Jan Lefrancois-Gijzen

Fred Armisen is a funny man. He’s been on Saturday Night Live for years and besides SNL is also a creator for the hilarious-because-it’s true “Portlandia” on IFC.

So why start a project in which people are asked to generate exclusively serious 30-second videos?

You could theorize all day, but one thing is abundantly clear: it’s tons of fun! Here are the rules:

  1. It has to be serious.
  2. It has to be 30 seconds or less
  3. No more than two people in it
  4. At least one 5-second dramatic pause
  5. At least one-cutaway to an object
  6. Do your best acting
  7. It needs to have a door slamming

One of Automatic Improv‘s favorite improv games is “Serious Scene,” so this was a natural fit! Here is our take:

How did we do it?

We had some spare time after shooting another sketch (coming soon!) so we set up a camera on the back of Andy Coen and Kevin Barry’s porch. In frame: two chairs and a door. Actors rotated in and out, doing :30-second serious scenes.

If my memory serves me right, we did nearly 20 scenes. Though a lot of them were great, we happened to laugh a lot in the process – even though we weren’t trying to be funny!

Improv Secret: not trying to be funny is an easy way to be funny.

Again, we had a ton of fun making this video. You TOTALLY should make your own, and feel free to post it in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Community art!


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