Good comedy improv begins with good etiquette. For instance, when someone offers you an imaginary chicken on stage, the proper response should be "Yes, and ..."

"That means that whatever one of the players offers you, you say yes to it," explained Laura Hall, the former music director for the improv television show "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" "You embrace it and add something new it.

Hall, who performs Saturday with her husband Rick Hall at the Pacific Grove Art Center in Pacific Grove, expanded on the concept of "Yes, and ..." an exercise she learned as a member of the Second City comedy troupe in the 1980s.

For example, if an improv player hands someone an imaginary thing and says "Hey, here's a chicken," the last thing you want to respond with is "No, it's a birthday cake!"

"You might get a laugh at that very moment, but two things have happened — you've gotten the laugh at the expense of the other player, because now they kind of look like an idiot," said Hall (illustrating a rule that improv players should never go for the put-down as a cheap laugh). "And now, how do you go on with the scene? You've blocked what the other person has offered you."

A good improv player being offered an imaginary chicken would receive the poultry gift and add something to it.

"The player who received the chicken could say 'Oh my god, it's laying eggs! Quick, catch them,'" Hall suggested.


"Or they could say 'This is the most beautiful chicken I have ever seen! I happen to have a rooster.'"

Hall and her husband offer these sort of techniques during their improvisation workshops around the country.

For Saturday's show, the couple will be joined by the Mirth "O" Matics, which are led by Gerry Orton.

"He's got a great group there, Gerry does," Laura Hall said.

Laura Hall will lead a song improv workshop Saturday morning at the Christian Church of Pacific Grove. The lessons will include passages from her new CD, "Improv Karaoke."

The two-disc release features celebrity improv demonstrations on one disc, and instrumental tracks for students to practice their own improv.

Laura Hall particularly enjoys teaching and performing musical improv because she initially set out to be a professional musician. She admits the genre is a hard sell.

"It's sort of like a specialty within a specialty," Laura Hall said. "A lot of people that do improv are frankly terrified to do song improv. Even if they're very good improvisers."

Her favorite memory from the "Whose Line Is It, Anyway" set occurred during a musical improvisation.

The performers, including host Drew Carey, were in the middle of a singing routine. Each player had to sing just one word at a time, in tune with the music.

Hall played to a big buildup in the song. When it came to Carey's turn, he was swept away in the moment and belted out a long line from the song.

"He sings this big long line and you can see on his face like 'Ohh. I was only supposed to sing one word.'" Hall said. "And then he starts laughing, and he laughed through the whole rest of the song. So every time it came to be his turn he would just laugh. He couldn't even get a word out."

Laura Hall said her favorite memories of the show involved Carey.

"I always loved it when Drew got tickled," she said, " because when he started to laugh, he didn't hold himself back. I'll put it that way."

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If you go

·Laura Hall hosts a song improv workshop from 10a.m.-3:30p.m. Saturday at the Christian Church of Pacific Grove, 442 Central Ave,, Pacific Grove. Call 394-3031 for information.

· The Mirth 'O' Matics perform with Laura and Rick Hall at 7:30p.m. Saturday at the Pacific Grove Art Center, 568 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove. 375-2208.