Now, this is a story all about how, our wildcard format came about, and we’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, to tell you about a show that we love to share…
When Buffet first formed, we were from a range of Improv backgrounds and had taken different courses, with a mixture of short form and long form experience between us. Many of us had met on a narrative course and really liked the idea of having a character go on a journey, but we also loved the fast-paced nature of short form that means you never really know what’s going to happen.
As a new group, we started to brainstorm a format and one Buffeteer, yours truly, put forward a suggestion that we do a narrative format, but with regular interventions from the audience that could spin the story off in a completely different and unexpected direction. This would combine the character development of long-form with the pace of short form. It would also remind the audience that we were improvising everything, and get them invested in the story that they were co-creating.
We created the role of a jester, who is in charge of opening the show, interacting with the audience and getting them to pick a playing card from our Wildcard deck. Our onstage improvisers then change the narrative depending on what card is picked. Our jester is always on hand to pause the action, remind the audience (and improvisers) of key information such as names and the hero’s dream and also edit when the story is going too far off track.
Initially, we kept it simple, with a higher card meaning something good would happen to our hero and a lower card meaning something bad would happen. However, the collective Buffet brainpower soon changed this into each card meaning something different, often tapping into short-form games that we love such as; remote control to zoom in, fast forward or rewind the action, restricting the players to speak in questions only, new choice or a new object. We also introduced some useful narrative tools, such as a card promoting a monologue that would remind the audience of character dreams or thought bubbles to reveal inner motivations.
Then to really keep us on our toes, we introduced a musical card which tapped into some of the musical Improv experience of the group and we decided that if a Joker comes up, absolutely anything goes!
As we learn from each show, we tweak our cards and games and are continually perfecting the format. Every show is different, exciting and challenging – which is how we roll at Buffet.
To really understand Wildcard, come and see us at one of our upcoming shows. We think you’ll love it, we certainly think it’s ace…