16 Tips and Advice for Students of Improv


“My mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier you’ll be a general; if you become a monk you’ll end up as the Pope.’ Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.” – Pablo Picasso

Students of Improv! You’re going to be okay! Art is hard! Long form is an art that requires patience. You will not get it overnight nor will you get it the next day. A typical 8 week class usually goes like this from a students POV, “I get it, Oh shit, I’m in my head, I get it! I’m lost, I get it, I hate improv I’m never going to get it, WOW I get it!” and so on. Oh this can happen to vets too, nobody is safe from the ups and downs of improv.

Below is a list of things to maybe help ease your fears and give you some friendly tips and advice to help you get through it all. Think of it as free improv therapy.

  1. You can’t be perfect at improv, so don’t worry about it.
  2. You’re not going to get it.
  3. You’re your own worst enemy.
  4. You’re going to live in your head for a while. It’s class you’re learning.
  5. There is no right or wrong so just try everything.
  6. Take direction. They are teachers for a reason.
  7. You’re not the best improvisor ever, you’re not the worst improvisor ever…there is no such thing.
  8. Don’t be someone else in class or do another improvisor, be you!
  9. Sure that guy/gal gets more laughs then you…who cares they do their improv you do yours.
  10. You’re never done being a student.
  11. There will always be a bad show, class or rehearsal no matter how many years you’ve been doing this. Grab a beer and walk it off.
  12. It takes at least 1000 shows and maybe you’ll start getting it.
  13. Play with people better than you.
  14. Watch shows, watch more shows and then when you’re done watching those shows, watch even more shows!
  15. Read, observe and live life. Don’t just be an improvisor.
  16. If you don’t get cast out of an audition it’s okay, do it again and again and again! Don’t give up.

I hope this helps you in your quest. Improv is a wonderful art filled with wonderful people. Probably the best people on Earth in my opinion. Remember, class is about trying to figure out who you are and what you can do. Performance is about trying to figure out who you are and what you can do too. So like Picasso, become the improvisor that winds up being you.


Nick Armstrong

Nick is Camp Director and Founder of Improv Utopia an improv retreat for grown ups. He is also one of the founding members of the National Improv Network. We are always looking for better ways to serve the community. Drop us a line and let us know what you want! For more information visit: http://www.nickarmstrong.com or http://www.improvutopia.com


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