As a level one improv instructor, I see many students find improv from various walks of life. Improvisation can bring together eclectic, diverse people to reach a common goal. Talk to anyone that has tried improv and they’ll likely tell you it rocks their world because many tenets of a good improviser also happen to be what leads to being a good person. Improv can teach one a lot and in this edition, I wanted to explore my five reasons to do improv.
“Yes and” philosophy!
This is the premise behind all improvisation. Every school, institution and method uses “yes and” as the basis in the lesson of improv comedy. By saying “yes!”, improvisers become empowered and build together. The “and” component adds on to the initial idea. When everyone “yes ands” ideas, marvelous, unexpected things can occur.
Be more of a team player!
Improvisation can teach everyone this fundamental lesson. Many improv schools refer to this as groupmind. Groupmind is when the entire group of individuals are working towards a goal; highlighting others. Improv stresses the idea of elevating others. By making your fellow castmates look good, the ensemble looks good. It’s like a sport, all about support. Improv can be instrumental in teaching everyone how to truly be a fundamental piece to the team.
In the moment, be adaptable to change!
It is natural to be thinking about everything except what is in front of you. Improvisational comedy is an in-the-moment art. Nothing can be preconceived or planned. This enables a person to be wildly adaptive to change. By remaining in the moment and being okay with the idea of things developing into new, unpredictable choices.
Listening is a crucial piece to any improv scene. Being coached on the skill of listening furthers the goal of working in the moment. Often times people, while others are speaking, are already planning what they will say. Improv forces students to truly listen and respond genuinely. Dialog can go far deeper when the root is hearing what the other person is saying. Improv helps anyone truly listen better.
One of the most influential improv instructors I’ve had the honor to work with was Susan Messing. Messing has arguably the best philosophy: If you are not having fun then you are the asshole. At the end of the day, the primary reason anyone does improv is to have fun. Fun is the name of the game. Don’t be the asshole.
There you have it, five reason to give improv comedy a whirl. It should be known that there are countless other reasons to do improv, this was a mere five. Many cities across the country offer improv classes these days. Locally, The Voodoo Comedy Playhouse’s School of Improv offers a five-level curriculum. Click here to learn more about improv class as Voodoo. You can also join in on a relaxed drop-in every Monday and Tuesday. Learn more about drop-ins here.
Moral of the story? Try improv.
Jon Jon Lannen is a instructor, performer and writer for the Voodoo Comedy Playhouse. He has written three books. More about him here.