Fake It ’til You Make It: Three Tricks 4 Improv, Stand-Up, Monologues, Story Telling, Jazz Solos too

Becoming a confident, competent creator of art, story, theater, dance or music takes years if study and experience.

Over time we learn to shape a performance to the point our work feels real to the audience and ourselves.

Sometimes we don’t have the luxury of excess time. We are in the middle of an improv scene; we have to cold read an audition; or perhaps we are developing an original Stand-Up Comedy routine.

There are numerous techniques in each discipline, how to make better choices, how to move, etc, but no matter the art form try employing these simple techniques to immediately make your work more captivating.

No make performances pop before their time, make conscious effort to vary…

  • Rhythm (also pace & tempo)
  • Volume/Pitch of sound
  • Physical levels

Of you want your audience to be engaged, make choices to vary all three of the above throughout the performance.


Rhythm is so obviously important to jazz and comedy. All performing arts are dictated by rhythm.

Learn from our Jazz musicians that say the most important part of jazz is the rest, or silence between notes.

I teach comics to create a moment where you just stop talking. Fill that moment with intent, rich inner monologue (thoughts heightening the mood/thought of the story, character, setting etc) feel the emotion of the moment for real. Unexpected silence can be more powerful than I expected screams.

Comics drinking water on stage is often a pacing trick, not just hydration.

Pauses only become “pregnant” or “large enough to drive a truck thru” when not sustained.

In a typical 2 minute monologue or comedy bit, make at least three consciousness moments when you will speed up the pace and/or tempo. Pace is the perceived speed, often felt as part of the time of the work, created moments, or lack of space, between words and phrases. Tempo is the actual speed of the words.

Monotonous tempo and pace is bad at any level. Even you are packed with energy, talking fast you will lose your audience. And stagnation, no matter how intense the intent will note the most focused among us.


Similarly we need to vary pitch and volume, but more so the latter.

Be careful, varying pitch too much can make is hard for microphones to pick you up without peaking.

More likely to you should use pitch for variety.

Physical Presentation Levels

So far we were focused on the quality of our sounds, however we need to vary various physical interesting.

Make choice to change how close (downstage) or away (upstage) fr audience you prefer to be at any given changes.

At times stand tall, lean, sit or even lay down on stage.

We usually face the audience, but try looking away from the audience on purpose. We should constantly changing sure our eyes focus.

Use the whole stage. Experiment with your character standing in various locations on stage. Experiment with quality of movement: smooth, jerky, flowing, quick bursts, etc.

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