Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell and Bill Murray all have something in common — and it’s not just good looks.
They all come from improv backgrounds.
In fact, many actors train in improv, a theater technique that is commonly used in TV and film. Improv has many benefits for both the dramatic actor and the everyday person.
Improv allows comedians to exercise the ability to think quickly on their feet. This technique is used a lot in comedy, since making something funny out of the unexpected is part of the genre. Good comedic timing is a strategy all successful comedians must master, and is one that also works well in everyday life.
The skills people exercise in improv are not just skills used in comedy; many can be applied to everyday situations.
One of the few things comedians like to exercise in improv is to always say the first thing that comes to their mind. The more time you have to think about what you want to say, the quicker the moment passes and the opportunity to “heighten the scene” is gone.
There are times when we hold back a thought, idea or an opinion, but in comedy this is never a good idea. We don’t always realize how valuable and important what we have to say is.
Another skill improv participants focus on is looking out for one another. In an improv show, you are performing with three or four other people. Improv teaches performers that you are part of a team collectively trying to reach the same goal: making the audience laugh.
The most important rule in improv is that you can’t say no. In life, things get thrown at you left and right, and your ability to say “yes” and adapt will determine how you progress.
Not only should comedians refrain from saying no, but they should be prepared to elaborate on all of their responses. The more you add to a scene, the faster you will be able to move forward. A simple “no” will get you stuck — just like it would in reality.
Improv comes with a lot of skillsets, but it’s also a great way to boost overall confidence.
Amy Poehler once said there is power to looking silly and not caring that you do.
Looking “silly” is something a lot of people fear. However, improv encourages silliness. The sillier you are, the more entertaining and enjoyable things will turn out.
As a college student, I struggle with not thinking I’m smart enough, talented enough or experienced enough. But improv helped me realize that what I have to offer is more than enough.
There is a lot of success to be had in improv, and the big names in comedy are living proof of that. Improv is definitely an exciting experience, and helps anyone gets out of a comfort zone.