One of the things that makes Improv much easier is getting into character. If the kids really understand the character they are playing (who they are, what they want, why the act the way they do, where they are from, etc) much of their dialog writes itself and they can cognitively focus on meta-issues like adding humor and constructing an tight narrative.
There are various acting techniques that have evolved over the years, many of which trace their origin to the Russian Konstantin Stranislavsky. Here is a family genealogy of how the most popular acting techniques used to day evolved from the Stranislavsky System:
For example, here is a basic summary of the Stanislavski Method that forms a basis for many popular acting techniques today:
Basically, these acting techniques identify and emphasize various techniques to try to physically, emotionally or cognitively place the actor into the the roles they play so a performance comes across as authentic to the audience. In DI we’ve tried to repeatedly have the kids clearly identify their character (who are they – characterizations, what do they want – objective, why do they act the way they do – motivation) and clearly flesh them out on stage.
Since we are doing short form comedy improv skits incorporating 4 improv elements within 2mins duration we are working off a lot of character and narrative stereotypes that should be familiar to our audience instead of digging deep into the psyche of our characters. Still, for our kids pulling off a convincing superhero or injecting a comic element by exaggerating or inverting a stereotypical trait can be like Robert Dinero packing on 60lbs to play an aging Jake LaMotta.