In this bonus Ask the UCB episode, Matt Besser, Seth Morris, Eugene Cordero, and Will Hines discuss playing gay improv characters and improvising with what you know.
This reminds me of one of my favorite scenes from last weekend. We were doing a series of two-person scenes where each of us gets an emotion-related suggestion that the other doesn’t know. The suggestion that I got was sappy romance, and I gather that the emotion my scene partner got was some kind of fear.
The scene involved my character pleading for his partner to come around to my side of a subway platform so that we could be together. We found a game where he would confess to something terrible, I would try to forgive him, and then he’d freak out thinking I was just messing with his head before confessing to something even worse. Repeat.
I say he because my scene partner himself was male, and nothing about his offer specifically said otherwise about his character. So I went with the least surprising option. At some point I think I named him Jimmy.
I don’t think my scene partner ever specifically identified my character’s name or gender, because it was never really important. His character was focused on his own past actions, and my character was focused on him, so that’s how we identified each other. Maybe half the audience thought we were a gay couple, and the other half thought I was playing a woman in that scene. If he’d specified something one way or another, then it’s my job to take that on, but until then, the audience gets to fill in the blanks with what they want to get out of the scene.
In this case it just never became important to answer that question, and that strikes me as a good thing.