Continuing our journey with improv related prompts for large language models, we though it might be a good idea to see if Midjourney (read: the internet collective conscious) understands the subtleties of improv. We chose four classisc scene setups and let Midjourney come up with four sample images of each scene, numbered 1 (top left), 2 (top right), 3 (bottom left) and 4 (bottom right). And away we go…

/imagine an improv scene where two people are driving a car

Four improv scenes driving a car

As with all improv, characters must be in state of complete panic and have extra large eyes. All four scenes correctly show incorrectly positioned and proportioned steering wheels, as is the rule for improvised driving scenes, although scene 4’s wheel is mimed a touch too thin.

Scene 1 is an advanced class as it is extremely clear from their object work that they have no windscreen and are using a windscreen wiper to steer. Scene 2 has it’s radio outside the car, which is questionable mime technique and worth stopping the scene to point this out. Scene 3 has kindly moved the steering wheel out of the way so we can see their object work, including the woman passenger’s third leg which is not such an easy thing to mime.

Note however the unusual apocalyptic and badly defined ceilings and backgrounds. For this reason we give these scenes a collective 8 out of 10.

/imagine an improv scene where a character is interviewed for a new job

Four improvised job interview scenes

Scene 1 is top notch as interviews often have aliens, robots or evil overlords attending the interview, although in this case the alien robot inconsistently has one turquoise foot and one cream coloured foot which seems to have been ignored by the improvisors.

Likewise in scene 2, nobody seems to notice that the man on the right only has 3 fingers on his right hand and his thumb is on the wrong side. Although to be fair this could be what the job is for. The man in the centre seems to have a lot of string wrapped around his foot however which also seems to be a dropped offer.

Scene 3 has the actors cheating out well so we can see their faces, however there may be audience circle of expectation as to why they are positioned this way for a job interview. All 3 actors have deformed hands and faces but this could simply be a variation of Party Quirks. I particularly like the wall hanging depicting two well dressed aliens holding backpacks, but this seems more self indulgent beginner improvisors and should have been tagged off.

Scene 4 is a great job interview group game where the whole cast get to interview the one legged lady for a job. She may also have an arm missing, but we can’t really see — if she mimed this on the fourth wall it would be clearer to the audience.

We like the fact that every scene has more than two characters and the jobs seem physical and out of the ordinary, but then we’re also big fans of the classic two person job interview and it’s shame to not get at least one. For this reason we give these scenes a collective 6 out of 10.

And some emotion might be nice.

/imagine an improv scene where two people use a plunger as if it was a different object

In Theatresports we sometimes use physical props which you have to use as other in-scene objects. This is an attempt to get Midjourney to explore those physical choices.

Four improvised scenes use plunger as a prop

First off, top marks for facial expressions! After the mundane lack of emotion in our job interview scenes, it’s great to see Midjourney returning to classic improv acting. Big emotion, big facial expressions… big eyes!

Scene 1 has great heightened emotion by going straight to 10 with no stops along the way, subtle or otherwise. Not sure if the attempt to use a dustpan and broom made of dirt justifies that emotion however, so either the dirt pan offer has been dropped and there’s something else going on, or maybe they just really hate how everything turns to dirt. Perhaps that’s the game of the scene. And someone may have misplaced the plunger as the woman is holding what looks like a lamp stand. Please, the game is supposed to be the best use of a plunger.

Scene 2 is also using a lamp stand, so perhaps the local improv shop ran out of stock standard plungers. His plu… errr, his lamp stand seems to be disintegrating on the floor which is a bold offer, but they seem to be ignoring it so it’s unclear what the scene is about. The woman is holding what looks like a very small unopened champagne bottle, but it’s unclear from the scene what they could be celebrating. That’s being kind though because it also looks like a phalic hand signal, in which case the scene needs to be swept. And neither of them are looking at each other, they’re both looking off stage, so all up it seems like a scene with too many dropped offers. Someone sweep it please.

Scene 3. Yeah look, that’s also not a plunger, and not even the woman’s double jointed hand and thumb, and sand in her eyes, will convince us otherwise. The man looks like he has an idea regarding a three prong garden fork but he hasn’t followed it through. Someone please sweep, or just stab her with the fork and we’ll see what happens from there.

Obviously the men in scene 4 have seen the previous 3 scenes and have decided to hide what we assume is another not-a-plunger. No matter however, as they’ve correctly fully embraced the absurdity curve by sanding the yellow sponge onto the floor as yellow dust, wearing a bright and whacky Mongolian style hat for no reason, and for those with keen eyes they’ve also inserted a baseball bat into the man with the yellow shirt. Realistic? No. Believable? Absolutely! Faces like that will sell anything.

We give these scenes a collective score of 4 out of ten. That’s zero for not playing the “use a plunger as another object” game, and 4 for classic improv emotion heightening.

/imagine an improv scene where two people are cooking a meal

Classic cooking scenes. An improvisor’s bread and butter.

Four improvised cooking scenes

Finally, Midjourney brings it all together in these classic improv cooking scenes. For cooking badly, 10 out of 10! For emotional heightening and classic improv faces, 11 out of 10! And of course the women are more excited to be in the kitchen than the men who seem to be just following their lead and not really sure what happens in a kitchen other than just being excited to be there, just like in many beginners classes.

Scene 1 is a great mapping scene, using a classic scene from Alien (the movie) to transform their scene. You can just see the alien creature underneath the man’s right hand although it may be difficult to see unless you’re in the front row. That’s a good mime note right there, bigger and more obvious would be better. We like the intense focus on the smoke rising into the air, and their facial expressions which seem to say “Wow! Look! It’s smoke!”, perhaps to suggest the game being that everything mundane which happens in the kitchen is new and super exciting.

Scene 2 unfortunately lacks some technique, as it looks like the man has three hands and is holding a little brown 2D bowl. Some depth would be good, and remember where body parts are at all times. We like the fact that the light is so low he has to duck his head to get under it, but if this is true then what else is true, what else could be hindrance in this scene? Something to consider before they return to class next week.

Scene 3 is making a bet each way, we have bad cooking, food all over the place, and food exploding into the air. All good physical play. That is an extremely large jar of garlic powder or tumeric or whatever it is, mime technique could be improved, although that could be an unusual thing in the scene — it’s difficult to tell from a freeze frame of course. A few little niggly notes though. There is a shadow of a spoon in a bowl at the bottom right, but no spoon. And the large table sized chopping board seems to have melted over the table down stage. We could be wrong but wood doesn’t melt, or if it does in this scene then nobody seems to care. Dare we say “Mime technique please!”

Our final scene, scene 4 has the classic exploding pot with completely inappropriate heightened emotion. You can see these scenes every night of the week in improv classes and on stage and never get bored. Not sure why a clear plastic 2L drink bottle has launched itself towards the ceiling, but these are clearly beginners and so we’re more than happy to forgive their exuberance and dropped offers.

For our cooking scenes, for clearly beginner improvisors, we give these scenes a collective 10 out of 10!

(And finally, clearly this is supposed to be comedy and none of the above is true about improv. Or is it? See you in class!)