In a Laughter for a Change Improv class on Thursday night, one of the players created a character that was smoking a “spacecigarette. Good choice – the way he handled the cigarette

gave a lot of detail to the character. It was a real example of how a space prop and physical acting can bring reality to an improv. In the midst of the improv, the player became so excited, gesturing wildly with his arms, that the space cigarette totally disappeared. His commitment to the character was there, but his attention to the “physical reality” of the cigarette he created flew out the window. I coached him – “Don’t forget the cigarette” and he refocused on it, harder than before. That’s when the scene got funny.

His attention was not on trying to create a funny character, but just to give reality to the physical choice he had made, and when he truly did that, the scene took on new life, the character got richer and the laughs started coming. With his attention to the space work, all this “business” with the cigarette came to life spontaneously. He discovered how to make the character real, which is to say funny, by staying true to the physical reality he had created.
Incidentally, the FDA has determined that smoking imaginary cigarettes is not harmful to your health.