• Jason Farr

Tips to Being a Better Improviser


There are plenty of ways to be a better improviser and I'm trying to learn them all! That's the whole point of "There It Is," for me to learn new things and share it with others. Last month I posted about how to be a better improv teammate.

I think there are a couple tips that can lead you down a path to be a better improviser, too!

These are just a few things I can think of. There are plenty of others that much better improvisers than myself can think of. You can probably think of some, too. Consider this as me getting the ball of improv theory rolling.

4 Tips to Become a Better Improviser:

  1. Grow Your Comedy Brain Learn what's funny. Learning what constitutes funny is easier than you might think. You can read about the structure of a joke (like I did in the book "the Comedy Bible"), watch a lot of comedy in all of it's various forms, and most importantly, you can learn by doing. Doing stand up or improv allows you to experience trial and error. Comedy is a real trial by fire sport, but if you really want to get better at it you have to do it! Grow that comedy brain!

  2. Do Improv a Lot Just to reiterate, learn by doing, and do it a lot. Like I learned from the 2nd grade play I was in, "The Wackadoo Zoo," practice makes perfect! This is true for any skill. The more you do something the better you get at it. Take up as many chances to get on stage that you can. Doing it often will help, too. If you can practice or perform a couple times a week you'll grow a lot as an improviser and performer.

  3. Hone Your Performance Skills Performance skills cover both the ability to do accents and other tricks, but also expression of feelings and desires. Deep, true, honest performance is when a performer genuinely expresses emotion. It's a skill actors, singers, dancers, and improvisers learn to get the most out of their work. You can hone your skills by taking classes and workshops to help craft how you express yourself. Books can help by teaching you methods and giving you exercises to practice. Books also can help you learn how to break down any emotional blocks that keep you from being vulnerable enough to perform.

  4. Learn Improv Moves When I say "improv moves" I mean the sort of choices you can make in a scene. The choices you can make to move the scene along or layers you can put in a scene to make it funnier. Scenes have locations and in those locations are objects to be used. These locations are occupied and these objects are used by characters. These characters have feelings, perspectives, emotions, and desires. They have things they're trying to get from other characters. These characters have relationships and behave a certain way between them. Moves you make in scenes have to do with basic things like these and more. The way you utilize and incorporate them make up the improv moves. If you've grown your comedy brain and you know how to perform then you'll figure out a lot of moves that you can make. Deconstruct what makes things funny when you're off stage. Think about what makes a scene work or not work. Learning about what a scene needs can help you make more varied moves or choices which create more dynamic scenes.

One thing you'll need is time. These aren't things you can implement tomorrow and then suddenly be a world class improviser. Implementing them now starts you on the right path to becoming a better improviser.


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