Rehearsal: Making It Work For Your Team

Not all rehearsal time is created equal, so it is important to learn how to make your rehearsal work for your team’s needs. Rehearsal is an inevitable part of any comedy troupe’s life (unless you’re one of those too cool for school groups that don’t rehearse). Rehearsal provides your team the ability to bond, improve upon your individual weaknesses, and learn to build that unspoken telepathy that long-running teams tend to have!

Here are some things to consider to make the most of your rehearsal time.

What are your team’s goals during rehearsal?

I’m surprised how many teams don’t have clear goals. You can’t make the most of rehearsal if your team doesn’t know what they’re working towards. Do you want to be funny? Corny? Gross and edgy? Do you want to perform for a drunk, rowdy crowd or a refined, older crowd? What does success look like for your team?

I always start with the question about goals with every class I teach and every team I coach. Otherwise, I feel like I’m doing a disservice to my students and performers! What’s the point of paying me if you’re not getting what you want? As much as I love teaching thematic, organic openings, if the group wants to do improvised Jane Austin, then we’re just wasting time.

Are the members of your team aligned with the team’s rehearsal goals?

I have been on plenty of teams where six members of the team are super excited to do a character workshop, and one person feels like it is a waste of time (it was me, I was the jerk). I’ve coached teams where we’ve tried to avoid premise-based improv, which upset the members who wanted to follow game.

If the team has a goal, but not all of the members of the team agree with that goal, then it’s going to be hard to grow as an ensemble.

Imagine if someone was writing on Saturday Night Live. Instead of pitching sketches, they pitched dramatic short films about children overcoming cyberbullying. Sure, it would be a great film. But, it’s not right for SNL. When team members would rather focus on what they want, instead of what the group has decided on, that’s a moment to reassess.

This is why it’s important for goals to be set before rehearsal begins. Then, we’re not discussing “what we should be doing,” but rather “what is the best way to get there?” In order to make the rehearsal work for your team, you have to make sure that everyone is aligned with the team’s goals.

Do you have the right coach or director to help you achieve those goals?

Oftentimes, teams are assigned a coach or director (if we’re talking about a house team at a theater) or they pick a coach or director who they are a fan of. And sometimes you just pick the person who’s available and cheapest. But their ability to get you closer to your goals is more important than their price or how many shows of theirs you’ve seen.

I know my strengths and weaknesses as a director. So, I know which teams I can help and which I can’t. Your rehearsal time is precious, so it’s important to make a business decision, not a personal decision, about who can serve your team the best.

If you have the ability to choose who leads your team, then make sure that they have a plan for your team. This will make the most of the rehearsal time you have together. Also, it’s okay to switch coaches or directors if they no longer meet the needs of the ensemble! And sometimes it’s good to try a new coach for a week, just to see what it feels like.

How will you measure success?

I would argue that learning how to measure success is the best way to ensure that you’re making the most of your rehearsal time. When you don’t have clearly stated goals, you won’t really know if you are progressing as a team.

If you can measure specific behaviors, it will give you the quantifiable data necessary to analyze your progress as a group. Here are a few examples of goals and questions to ask:

We want to be more committed in our acting.

How many times did we break during a show? How many times did we create a clear character who was different from ourselves?

We want to be better at listening.

How many times did someone not respond to the last thing that was said in a scene? How many times did someone call someone the wrong name?

We want to be the funniest team in the world.

How many times did we make the audience laugh? How long was the laughter?

We want to build a dedicated fan base.

How many people who came to the show last week returned this week? How much are our ticket sales increasing month-to-month?

We just want to goof around and have fun.

Did you goof around and have fun?

This might feel more like a research project than a comedy troupe at this point. Although, if the goal is to improvise and grow, it’s important to be able to measure whether or not that growth actually happened. Building in moments of analysis can help you and your team reorient yourselves if you start to get off-track.

What are the signs that things aren’t working?

Unfortunately, not all teams stay together forever. If this is a surprise to you, then sorry about that. Oops. But there are usually signs that a team is starting to drift apart. Here are a few things to watch out for:

It doesn’t feel fun anymore!

If you dread going to rehearsal, then that’s an internal sign that you don’t feel like you’re making progress (or that you’re on a team with problematic people – also bad). Rehearsals are work. However, if they feel like pulling teeth, then that’s a sign that you’re not growing.

Other people aren’t coming to rehearsal.

People are chronically late or cancelling at the last minute. There’s that one guy who was there for the first meeting that you’re starting to think was just part of a fever dream. Other people’s behavior can show you that the team isn’t growing.

Over time, you don’t feel like your shows are getting better.

As we’ve discussed, having those clear goals helps you know that things are working. But they also help you know that things are not working. If you’ve been rehearsing for months and still not seeing any improvement, then it’s time to shake things up. Re-evaluate as a group and check everyone’s commitment to the group goals. And maybe switch up your coach or director for a few weeks to see if that makes a difference

Final thoughts

Rehearsal is the 2-3 hours per week that you get with your team to build whatever you’ve decided you want to work on. So, it’s your job as an ensemble to make the most of it. Having a good foundation and map for future growth will help you stay in alignment and hopefully grow into the internationally renowned ensemble that you want to be. Or the group that makes really funny fart jokes at 11pm on a Tuesday night. Whatever you want, I hope you’re the best at it.

Please Consider Donating

please consider donatingThe Improv Network is holding a fundraiser so we may continue to operate.

Traditionally, our costs to operate have been covered by festivals utilizing our submission services. With festival cancellations due to Covid, we have lost that stream of income.

We are asking you to please consider donating $12 today. $12 covers a full day of our costs to operate as we do now. Our goal is to raise enough money for one year of operations ($4,380) over the next 30 days.

The Improv Network supports the largest user generated database of improv teams and theaters in the world. It provides instant festival submissions for teams, easy festival application management for festivals, and resources and educational tools that include blogs, videos, podcasts, and interviews. On our website, you can find teacher and workshop profiles, connections and chat features with our worldwide improv community, and professional landing pages for individuals, teams, and teachers, all with no ads.

The Improv Network is run by a board and staff consisting of all unpaid volunteers. Therefore, the $12 each day covers our website, hosting, interactive user database and platform, and all connected software.

We ask that you please consider donating or sharing this. Our mission is to connect improvisers and provide every team, theater, and performer, anywhere in the world, access to the support, information, tools, and resources they need to create outstanding improv and run positive, safe, and diverse theaters and festivals. Now, we are asking for your support.

Any amount helps and is greatly appreciated. We value your time and your part in our community. Thank you.

A special virtual event will be happening on April 24th. Check back soon for more details.

Marcus Sams – Our New Board Member

A photo of Marcus SamsWe are thrilled to announce that Marcus Sams is our newest Board Member here at The Improv Network! He brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience that will be invaluable to our team. We cannot thank Marcus enough for volunteering his time and energy. You can meet Marcus on our Improv FAQ conversation series on 8/8/2021 from 1pm-2pm EST, live on our Facebook page!


Marcus and Improv

Marcus Sams is the founder of Moment Improv Theatre as well as the Artistic Director of the San Francisco Improv Festival. He has performed improv since 2001 and has been in 70+ national improv festival shows. This includes the “Secret Show ” at the Chicago Improv Festival. Here, he opened for BassProv with his duo Liss n’ Sams, featuring Joe Liss of Second City. Additionally, he was a “Master Teacher” at the Alaska State Improv Festival in 2017. He has been a headlining act and instructor at the KC Improv Festival, Out of Bounds Comedy Festival,  Seattle Festival of Improv Theatre, and others.

With agility built into his bloodstream, Marcus transitioned from in-person improv training to online improv training in 5 days. He taught over 345 hours of online improv instruction in 2020 alone. Moreover, he pioneered the online improvisational style known as the F.L.I. Technique and Teleprov. He has also been producing cutting edge online improv shows since September of 2020. Marcus has taught improv to companies such as Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Airbnb, and Ebay. Also, Marcus has written over 240 hours of curriculum for Moment Improv Theatre and currently teaches 3-5 classes per week. Additionally, Marcus is the founder of one of the first African American owned improv theatres and training centers in the United States, established in 2014.

Marcus’s Approach to Improv

Marcus believes that improv skills are life skills and that anyone can participate in this magical and transformative art form. He has a systematic and heart-centric approach to improv that breaks down improv concepts to their core units. This delivers usable tools to the working player. Marcus was originally trained as a stage actor and brings this respect for stagecraft and training to the improv world. He believes that improv is not a crap-shoot and that once one learns the craft of improv, it frees them up to experience a deeper level of play.

Outside of Improv

When Marcus is not engaged in improv, he also has a lot on his plate. He serves on the Union Square Business Improvement District’s marketing committee, is the co-founder of the Bay Area Film Mixer, and has professional representation through MDT Talent.


Moving Forward

We cannot wait to work with Marcus Sams. Exciting changes are on the horizon and we look forward to having his input. With the celebration of this addition, we also must say a bittersweet goodbye to having Nick Armstrong on our Board. Nick has been here since day one, founding The Improv Network.  He has been an incredible team member and mentor every single day. Nick is truly a representation of The Improv Network and its work, and is one of the most supportive people. We hope to make him proud as we continue on with our mission. Nick is moving on to other amazing projects as he continues to be a guiding light in the improv world, and we wish him our best.

Improv FAQ Brings Their Knowledge

New Educational Content from The Improv Network

Improv FAQ

Improv FAQ

Here at The Improv Network, we commit ourselves to connecting improvisers. We strive to help performers create outstanding improv and run positive, safe, and diverse theaters and festivals. Part of this includes producing free educational content. With this in mind, we are happy to announce a new branch to our educational offerings! The Improv Network is bringing Improv FAQ into our family. We are so excited to be working with this great team.

What Is Improv FAQ?

Improv FAQ is an educational resource dedicated to helping create stronger connections throughout the improv community. It includes instructional mini-lectures, a Q&A series, and the “At Length” conversation series. These will unpack common questions and topics in improv and frequently feature wonderful guests. Moreover, these are great resources for improvisers looking to soak up as much improv shoptalk as possible. James Quesada and Bob Wieck created and host Improv FAQ.

James Quesada

James Quesada

What will you see?

Our staff has grown! We are thrilled to have James and Bob join us at The Improv Network. They will be our new Education Team. On behalf of The Improv Network, they will be creating podcasts and videos, continuing their different series, and creating some new offerings. Now, you can find previously created Improv FAQ content online. Soon, Improv FAQ will be releasing new content on a weekly basis. This will all be on our website and free for you to access.

Bob Wieck

Bob Wieck

How can you keep up-to-date on released content?

Make sure to create an account on The Improv Network to have access to the entire educational library! Also, join The Improv Network Group Page on Facebook so you can ask questions to the community. We’ll notify you there when new content is released. Additionally, that will be the place to have discussions with our Education Team. There are so many ways to stay connected and active!

To submit your questions and topics to be explored in our educational content, please email

Check out their bios here

We are always looking for new ways to support and provide resources. We cannot thank James and Bob enough for helping us with this mission. Please join us in giving them a very warm welcome!

Aaron Mosby on Building Anti-Racist Theaters

LAUREL: Welcome, Aaron! I’ve known you for a few years through the San Diego Improv Festival and I really admire you as a performer. Tell us a little bit about yourself!

AARON: My name is Aaron Mosby. I’m the Director of Consulting & Delivery at an IT services company called Avtex. The oldest of five, and I grew up in Atlanta, GA and Minneapolis, MN. I live with my girlfriend in New York, NY. 

I spent 10 years volunteering, teaching, and performing at Washington Improv Theater (WIT) in Washington, DC. During that time, I served as a member of the board for 5 years, 2 of which were spent as the board chair. 

LAUREL: Tell us about how you got started at Washington Improv Theater. 

AARON: I saw my first show at WIT in 2006 and got seriously involved in the theater in summer 2009. I had just been laid off from a job which gave me the opportunity to take 2 week-long intensives. Shortly after, I started volunteering at the box office and working as a TA. After finishing the classes program in 2010, I began a program of becoming a teacher. In 2012, I began teaching and joined Nox, which would go on to become a house ensemble at WIT. In 2014, I joined the board of directors. After two terms, I stepped down, in part, because I moved to New York. 

LAUREL: How does WIT’s structure foster diversity? 

AARON: The core structural element that facilitates diversity at WIT is its non-profit status. WIT is a mission-driven organization that exists: “To unleash the creative power of improv in DC. To engage audiences with performances that exhilarate and inspire. To ignite the spirit of play in Washington with a revolutionary training program. To create a home for improv, connected to the life of the city.”

To meet this mission, WIT has to rely on diverse voices that make up Washington, DC. This drives WIT to have a city-wide strategy to get improv into as many hands as possible. This is woven into the classes program, which hosts classes in diverse locations around the city. It’s woven into the artistic programming that is proactively interested in making sure that audience members see themselves represented on stage. It’s woven into the board of directors that is as diverse as the city itself. 

LAUREL: How has WIT’s structure and mission statement helped them navigate issues in the past? 

AARON: WIT is accountable to the community it has helped to create throughout the city. In 2017, the improv community in the DC metro area called for accountability on diversity in the improv community. WIT released a detailed report of the people who worked for the organization, including the board of directors, full-time staff and teachers, and the people who made up performance ensembles, including players and directors. In addition, they created a public tracker of these data points that can be assessed and reviewed by the community at any time. WIT also opened up the theater space for a town hall discussion that gave everyone in the community a chance to share ideas on ways WIT could create more inclusive opportunities. 

LAUREL: Do you think large, for-profit theaters can uplift diverse voices as well as smaller nonprofits can? 

AARON: I believe there is a way for for-profit theaters to uplift diversity, but it has to be baked into every aspect of how the theater is run. Building a diverse space is an on-going effort that must be continually attended to to drive desired outcomes. This will also likely include additional investment in unique marketing campaigns that communicate to diverse audiences who may not otherwise be engaged in traditional marketing channels. 

LAUREL: What advice would you give to someone opening up a new theater?

AARON: Be intentional about the people you partner with to bring your theater into being. Partner with people who are truly passionate about what improv can do to improve a person’s life and the community. 

Have a mission worthy of the art from. Improv is built on spontaneous and fervent agreement. Improv encourages us to trust more and fear less. These foundations uproot engrained human behaviors and open up a space for connecting to other people that is rarely experienced. Improv should be spread as far and as wide as we can spread it. 

Finally, remember that great improv is about relationships, not transactions. For improv to thrive, you have to build a community.

The Improv Stimulus Package!

Hello theater owners and festival runners. We hear you and we know that most of you are non-profits or very small businesses and any closure is hard. The Improv Network has always been one to be the center of all theaters, a free online resource for you. So we are raising funds to allocate to those hurt the most by closures. So what you can do? Please share the link (See below) to anyone and everyone you can to give anything from $5 to $500 etc. Doesn’t matter, just anything. Please share this with friends, theaters, co-workers and family. Let’s all work together to save what will be most likely financially devastating to some theaters. In the spirit of “Got Your Back” Let’s have all of our backs!

Link to Fundraiser:

Guidelines to Applying: Now we don’t know how much we will raise, but what we do, we will allocate it all back to applicants based on their needs and what we have.


  • We have received many applications and have closed our application process. All money raised will be distributed to theaters that have already applied. If we raise substantially more money and can help more theaters, we will open the application process back up.
  • The board of The Improv Network will approve theater applications
  • You can apply for aid regarding rent and bills. Please provide evidence that you have shut down, and for how long. We need evidence that you will have trouble paying bills. 
  • The Network will award a full or partial grant depending on how much money we raise. 
  • Please only apply if your theater is experiencing significant financial trouble caused by the shut downs.
  • Email if you have any questions

Let’s all do what we can to help! Thank you!

Preventing Harassment and Discrimination in Your Improv Theater

In case you didn’t already know, The Improv Network is made possible by a handful of passionate improvisers who I’m honored to work with. We each have our own lives around the country, and we do our best to set aside some time every month to maintain and grow our little site.

Occasionally, we hear about harassment claims in theaters around the country, many that are home to members of our site. Our team at the Network has spent a lot of time thinking about what our role is in preventing discrimination and harassment in the improv community. Most of the time, we hear about these claims from friends who are reaching out to us in the hopes that we can provide a plan of action, support for the parties who were affected, or lend an ear.

Ultimately, we’re less effective in this role than we’d like to be because this kind of work isn’t what we’re built for. We’re not an investigative body and we can’t provide legal advice. All we can do it make a judgment for ourselves about whether or not that person should be allowed to continue to use our site.

We’ve realized that we can’t progress as an organization without giving theaters and improvisers the resources to prevent and handle harassment and discrimination in their own community. After all, that’s what we do – provide resources. We have neither the jurisdiction nor the resources to properly investigate harassment claims outside of our organization, but we will always be here to help individuals and communities navigate those tough situations. Those are the boundaries of our role in the community.

So, with the help of improvisers around the country, I’ve written a guide. In this post, you’ll find a blueprint for preventing harassment and discrimination in your theater. I believe that we can prevent misconduct by clearly stating our rules and expectations early and often. That way, if someone violates our policies, we can take immediate action with the knowledge that we’ve defined our boundaries and consequences from the beginning. The primary audience for this piece is theater owners, directors, teachers, and staff. However, it’s a good idea for performers to ask themselves if the theaters they frequent are taking active steps towards creating a safe environment.

Create a Harassment & Discrimination Policy

If you don’t have a harassment and discrimination policy already, you needed one yesterday. To me, this is the very first step in cultivating a safe environment. Set clear expectations for conduct. It’s never too early to create one and you’re going to be happy you did when you need to refer to it in a difficult moment.

Here’s a list of elements that should be outlined in a harassment and discrimination policy:

  • A list of prohibited conduct:
    • “Hostile Environment” Harassment –
    • “Quid Pro Quo” Harassment” – Unwelcome sexual advances
  • Protocol for handling unruly audience members, heckling, and drunkenness.
  • Responsibilities of staff to refuse inappropriate requests, report misconduct they’ve witnessed, and call out harassment on and offstage
  • Contact information for reporting, including an anonymous option
  • Investigative procedures
  • Consequences for violating the boundaries previously outlined
  • A “no retaliation” policy to protect reporters


If you’re struggling with handling student and performer boundaries, I think it’s worth pointing out that students are customers. If a customer at a bar or restaurant was behaving inappropriately, the staff would take action. The social element of an improv community can’t be denied, but it’s important to remember that you have the right to refuse service to people who are breaking your company’s policies. Handling these situations can be emotional, so clearly outlining boundaries in advance takes some of the gray area out of removing harmful people.

Look for examples in your community!

I think it’s a great idea to model your policy after another theater’s. There are lots of groups finding great success with creating a safe space.

HUGE Theater in Minneapolis has a great harassment and discrimination policy. It’s written in a way that’s accessible to staff and students, not just lawyer jargon. The document does a nice job of acknowledging the specific needs of an improv theater and accounting for the fact that “blue” or “dark” topics will arise onstage. It acknowledges that, because this a nontraditional workplace, some issues require a nuanced discussion of what the boundaries might be. Also, it’s made easily available by being linked on their website. Check it out here.

I asked Jill Bernard about the process they used to create their policy. She said they borrowed an existing policy from Arcade Theater as a blueprint. I love the idea of looking to other theaters in our global community for help. They tweaked the policy to fit the specific needs of HUGE, then had a lawyer look over it for confirmation that everything in the document was legally sound.

Untold Improv in San Francisco is a non-profit that aims to create a safe and affirming space for people of color to improvise. They were founded by my kickass friend Brian, who saw discrimination in his improv community and decided to create the space he wanted. He was kind enough to share their Expectations and Agreements document with me.

Their policy isn’t linked on their site, so I’ll share some of the highlights. It’s based around the idea of empowerment and self-advocacy, calling for self-care and awareness of privilege. It does a nice job of balancing responsibility when it comes to physical boundaries. The document states that you need to respect the boundaries your classmates have set, but goes on to say that players have the right to say “no” or “stop” at any time. It also calls for awareness of the nonverbal signals people give off about their level of comfort, even when they aren’t verbally asking to pause.

I’m a big fan of their mission and policy because it’s written by women and LGBTQ+ people of color for a space that’s entire aim is to uplift those voices. I’ve read a few different harssment and discrimination policies that forget about the discrimination part. It’s essential to address racism in these policies, not just sexual harassment. If you’re in the area, check them out. They’re removing financial barriers by allowing for sliding scale payments and scholarships for self-identified PoC.

Make your policy known.

Everyone associated with your theater should sign the document. Teachers should sign when they’re hired; students should sign before their first class begins. If you host a festival at your theater, out of town teams should also sign. If everyone is made aware of the policy in your theater, there’s a better chance that we’ll hold each other accountable.

In my opinion, it’s a good idea to post a copy of this policy in a backstage part of your theater, so students and staff can review it easily. Anytime your policy is updated, you can repost a physical copy and send and updated version to performers and staff for signatures.

Here are some questions to ask yourself about your theater’s policy:

  • Have we clearly outlined the boundaries of our policy?
  • Have we created a protocol for investigating reports?
  • Have we clearly outlined the consequences for violating our policy?
  • Does our policy account for the improvisational nature of the work we do?
  • Does this policy allow from anonymity?
  • Does this policy protect those reporting harassment and discrimination?
  • Is this policy easily accessible to our staff, students, and performers?
  • Could any person involved with this theater, from students to directors, use our reporting protocol?


Discuss boundaries during rehearsal

In my experience, this is the easiest way to ensure that improvisers are safe onstage, even if the theater you perform at isn’t doing much to facilitate those discussions. Coaches and performers can initiate a boundaries conversation with their team, and should regularly reintroduce the topic to see if anyone’s boundaries have changed. This includes things like touch, subject matter – anything.

For example, when I had this conversation with my team, Buttermilk, I advocated for myself by telling my team that I don’t like being grabbed from behind or doing scenes about sexual violence. A performer might have different boundaries with different groups. I feel more comfortable exploring touch with my duo than I do with a larger team. It can be helpful to check in with yourself about what you need with different groups. Each time you add a new member or hire a different coach, check in!

Different members of your team might have drastically different needs and expectations. On my larger team, we’ve got people who don’t want to be touched and people who’ve said, “you can grab any part of me.” Neither of those boundaries are difficult, just different.

Fair Play is a collective of women, trans, femme, and non-binary improvisers that is working towards making improv an inclusive and equitable art form. They take reports of misconduct directly through their site, so they’d be a great place to look for help if you’re an improviser currently experiencing harassment or discrimination. Their site also hosts a variety of resources to legal help and mental health counseling.

For guided boundaries discussions, Fair Play has a great guide on their site about different levels of physical intimacy. They’ve created posters you can keep backstage so that, before each show or rehearsal, improsivers can pick which level of intimacy they’re comfortable with that day. Our boundaries certainly change based on how we’re feeling, so these posters are a creative way to acknowledge those shifts while bringing you closer to your teammates. You can find those posters here.

Hire a Human Resources department

I know this step is harder for small improv theaters that don’t have the budget to take on another employee. I spoke to Josh Nicols at Voodoo Theater in Denver about his experience hiring an HR representative. Josh told me that they searched for candidates with HR experience in the Denver area. Rather than hiring a full time employee, their representative works on an as needed basis and is paid hourly. Anyone can report misconduct to their representative in person, over the phone, or via email.

In most cases, HR departments exist to protect companies legally. This isn’t necessarily ideal for an improv community, so it’s important to have a conversation with a prospective representative about your theater’s goals. Your representative will know to place a greater emphasis on community safety, so you can develop a trusting relationship with your improvisers.

Create a Lighthouse hotline

Lighthouse is a company that provides reporting hotlines for businesses. They take all kinds of reports, from financial misconduct to harassment. All reports made through Lighthouse can be anonymous. I think Lighthouse works well for improv theaters because their prices vary based on the size of the company. The Improv Network is currently considering a Lighthouse hotline, and we found their fee to be affordable.

I asked Nick Armstrong about his experience using Lighthouse hotlines for Voodoo Comedy Theater. Nick said they receive anonymous reports through Lighthouse that go directly to their HR department. After that, their staff will have a discussion about investigating the claim, a process spearheaded by their HR representative. You can find out more about Lighthouse here.

The Improv Network is here. At the core of our mission is our belief that all things can be solved through community. I’m eager to continue this discussion, hear your input, and learn more about the best methods for preventing harassment and discrimination in improv. Please feel free to contribute your thoughts and experiences in the comments on this post, or through our Facebook community page.

Big thank you to Jill Bernard, Brian Teng, Nick Armstrong, and Josh Nicols for helping me put together this guide! Your input was invaluable.

The Minutes of Salt Lake City Duofest

7:46 AM
You know that one feeling you get when you first wake up? The one where you can’t remember who or where you are? Yeah. I woke up to my roommate pounding on my bedroom door. He yelled “Chris is looking for you” and everything came rushing back. I’m Laurel Posakony and I’m at home in my bed, not Salt Lake City bound on Southwest flight 4056 for Duofest like I’m supposed to be.

7:55 AM
Several frantic phone calls and incorrect login attempts later, I’d booked myself a new flight to Utah where I’d meet my duo partner Christopher George, who was already in Salt Lake City like the good little scout he is.

8:30 PM
Chris picked me up in a sexy, new rental car. He was the third person ever to rent it and it made for a nice vacation from the beat up van I drive at home. I’m the one who beat it up, so the experience is really on me. We headed straight to the theater, since I’d already missed about a half a day of festival activities by sleeping through my alarm.

Salt Lake City Duofest was held in an arts warehouse called Sugar Space. It sits tucked in the back corner of a pretty residential area. So residential, in fact, that local teenagers on scooters greeted us as we pulled into the parking lot. The whole thing really added to the ambiance.

The space is awesome. Seriously. The festival’s creator Danielle Susi-Dittmore really nailed it. It’s a massive warehouse style building, but inside it’s got everything from a stage, to a kitchen and loft. The loft was sectioned off to act as a green room for performers, so I rushed up there first thing to get ahold of one of these goodie bags I’d been hearing about.

We saw a handful of awesome shows. Born and raised in San Diego, I might be a little biased when I say Sad Boys was my favorite set of the night. Their improvised pop punk songs really capture that iconic I-wanna-fight-my-dad sound.

11:00 PM
I know we’re there to do improv, but my favorite part of festivals is always exploring a new city with improvisers. Armed with our festival badges and niche pop culture reference t-shirts, we headed to Beer Bar in downtown SLC to celebrate the first night of shows. Utah has some weird drinking laws, but that didn’t stop any of us from doing what improvisers do best: hang out in bars.

12:00 PM
Chris promised me we’d only stay there for one drink; we had a long day of exploring and improvising ahead of us. We headed home to our Airbnb near the theater and made myself at home in the basement bedroom we shared . I still managed to forget my toothbrush in Chicago despite having an extra six hours to pack.

10:00 AM
Chris and I woke up and headed immediately to find me a toothbrush. Next on the list: Sweet Lake Biscuits and Limeade for breakfast. Only about half of the SLC residents I spoke to had been there before, but it blew our socks off. I got an avocado toast situation and Chris ordered biscuits and jalapeño limeade.

12:00 PM
This was pretty much the Merit Badge Mormon tour of the Salt Lake City area. We hit up everything from the Gilgal sculpture garden to Temple Square. We watched people get married, listened to the 1,776-pipe organ play, and I accidentally sat in the lap of a giant Joseph Smith meets sphinx statue where I should not have. I am deeply sorry.

4:00 PM
We finished off our Mormon adventure with a trip to Beerhive Bar. I’m not totally certain what Salt Lake City’s connection to bees is, but I expect a lively discussion in the comments. I had a campfire whiskey that ruined my esophagus, but tasted pretty great.

7:15 PM
Chris and I had our Merit Badge set in front of a massive audience. I’m not sure what all Danielle did to advertise this festival, but it worked. A ton of SLC natives watched me wrestle my scene partner and lose. Understandably, I will be needing a rematch next year.

10:20 PM
Bruce Campbell Soup made me laugh so hard I spilled Diet Coke in my lap.

11:00 PM
The show ended with a very sweet speech made by Danielle, who organized this entire kickass festival. She got the standing ovation she deserved before we pushed into the lobby for cocktails and bits.

12:30 AM
Chris and I passed out in our Air BnB beds before another day of transportation chaos.

Thank you for Danielle, Calvin, and anyone who had a hand in making this great festival possible. I loved every minute.

Goodbye, Farewell and Amen

When we started the National Improv Network in April of 2012 Bill Binder and I set out to connect the improv world like never before. Drawing inspiration from Kevin Mullaney’s Improv Resource Center, we created what is now The Improv Network, a non-profit worldwide site dedicated to the art of improvisation. Our mission has always been to give any theater, festival and improviser a chance to grow no matter what city they were in. That they didn’t have to go to Chicago, LA or New York to get great improv, that they could create it in there own backyard. I’m proud to say, I think our mission has been accomplished. We of course can’t take all the credit, thats the hard work of all the creators out there.

There’s a new generation of improviser coming up that can help see where improv needs to go next and what this site can do to help them get there. Improv faces many new challenges and some more serious issues today. I believe it’s my time to make space and let someone else come in. Someone who has the vision for what the Improv Network looks like in this new improv world. I’m very excited about the prospect of handing this over to the next generation of improviser. Bill and I always said, we should only be its guardians for a bit and let it go. So, for now I’m letting it go, passing the baton.


I will take my leave in December of this year as we try to locate a new person(s) to take my spot. Bill will remain on for now and I will remain on the board with myself, Bill Binder and Jeff Thompson. I will be on only as a consultant going forward. Not day to day operations.


You’ll see me around. I’m going to focus on running Camp Improv Utopia, with a similar mission as The Improv Network, just in real life form, and continue to be M.I.’s Westside Comedy Theater’s Artistic Director, love the community here. I may even write a blog from time to time. Hope you read it. I plan to travel to festivals, theaters and continue to be inspired by the art I love and dedicated most of my adult life to. Time to free up the brain to create new ideas and new things. 🙂


I want to thank my partner in crime Bill Binder, the Spock to my Capt. Kirk. Bill truly loves improv so much and has done so much for the worldwide community. If you saw the work he puts into the site, the free hours, you’d be shocked. How could someone put all this free time and energy into this? Because they love it. And Bill does. He is the man behind the curtain. If you see him, give him a big hug. He’s also an amazing improviser and teacher and you should never hesitate to have him out to your community. He is truly a visionary. In improv history books, you’ll hear about Viola Spolin, Del Close, but you should be hearing this mans name as well, he belongs in there.

Jeff Thompson – For keeping us on task and coming in and helping us when we needed it most. He’s TIN’s spirit animal. Jeff will continue on and help where needed and we couldn’t be happier with his help and guidance.

To all the Producers, improvisers, creators that have used the site. We made this for you, I hope you like it and keep using it. Thank you for making your festivals, your theaters, your teachers, your students all successful. Thank you for sharing your stories of successes and failures. Information is power and you have all been amazing in helping each other out. To that I say thank you.


So I say Goodbye, Farewell and Amen. It’s been a great honor and privilege to help create this resource. I firmly think that sometimes you have to move on in order for something to grow. For my part, I think I grew this as much as I could and am now looking forward to the next improv generation to take over and grow it to where it needs to be today. I’m proud of the work I’ve done and the communities I’ve helped. But it’s time to leave The Improv Network behind and hand the keys over. So whoever you are, please take care of it, have passion and love the art of improv first. Take this site and make it help people however they need to be helped. Let it live in the spirit of what our art form gives. The power of yes, the power of support, the power to change lives.

If you’re interested in taking my role in The Improv Network please e-mail me an essay on what makes you the best candidate and a resume to and

What we are looking for:

  1. Must have passion for the art and integrity of improvisation
  2. Must be an improviser (Duh)
  3. VISION: Have a vision, is there a hole in improv? Help fill it. What does improv need? Get it and throw it out to the masses. Find the resources and provide it.
  4. SUPPORT- Have a vision on how to support theaters and festivals in the modern improv era.
  5. Must be okay with working for free – This job does not pay. It’s been my honor to give back more to improv then it has given me.
  6. LEADER – Be someone that leads by example in your community. Someone who goes above and beyond.
  7. Technical stuff – Business Finances with Bill, Report to the Board in monthly meetings, blogging a few times a month or finding bloggers, coming up with new ideas to implement into the site. Answering e-mails to people with questions.

So that’s it. Is that you? Hit us up!

Signing off,

Nick Armstrong


The Improv Network


What I’ve Learned, So Far, as an Artistic Director

October was my official one year anniversary as Artistic Director for M.I.’s Westside Comedy Theater in Santa Monica, CA. It’s been an amazing learning experience. You see, there are tons of books on how to do improv, maybe too many now, but there’s not a book about how to be an Artistic Director. It’s like only other AD’s can pass their stories down from generations past, much like the Native Americans did passing on their stories on and on to preserve their history. I know this blog might not interest a lot of you, I’m sure there are only a handful of AD’s in the world that specifically run comedy theaters. But I want improvisers to see the insides a little bit and show you what’s up in the business end of things. Here are some observations, advice I’ve learned over my year as AD:

  1. It’s rewarding! You get to see the growth of many of your performers. It’s an honor to help artists reach their full potential and seeing it is an amazing experience. You see novices turn into masters at playing the piano and actors shine brighter than the first first day they stepped onto the stage. I never get tired of it and it’s what keeps me going.
  2. It is a hard job. You have to cut troupes, players, your friends. This is a very hard thing to do, to e-mail or call a friend or performer to tell them you can not longer perform for now. This sometimes causes strains in friendships and with your performers.
  3. Professionalism – You find out, who is a professional and who is not, really fast. People who don’t show up for a show, are unorganized, flaky. You name it you’ll find them fast and have to deal with it.
  4. You’re the middle man! Yes, you’re the balance of the force. You are the liaison between the business itself and the artists that perform with you. You have to find compromise on a daily basis.
  5. You can’t please everyone – You’re dealing with a ton of personalities. Imagine you can’t even get your team of 8 to decide on a Monday rehearsal, imagine that with hundreds of people and having to get decisions made.
  6. Compromise – I’m not always right and some decisions I’ve made are not the best. But you have to make those mistakes so you can learn from them.
  7. You Should do this – You’ll hear this a lot. So what do you do? Listen, their could be a good idea in there. But know that most of the time the person saying “you should do this.” will not help you carry out that idea. Try to get them involved in helping with  the idea instead of just suggesting. I’ve actually found out when I was more forward about that and gave them tasks it worked.
  8. You hear more complaints then praise. Not that I’m looking for praise at all, but your job is to have a vision and direct a theater into that vision. Sometimes people have issues with that, again see 5 and 6 above. HA!
  9. Have a vision and communicate your vision – You can’t just be an admin. You have to have a vision on what you want done and how it fits with the theater. Communicate all your ideas and why you’re doing them with your community. To make sure the community is involved so they have a say.
  10. The Community – That’s what it’s all about. My community has surprised me on many levels and I’ve been doing this for years. At the end of the day you do it for them. They are awesome, deserving and most of the time do this for free. That’s one thing I will always remember when I go into the theater. My philosophy I’ve made with them, if you’re doing this for free you should be A. Be having fun and B. Learning something. If you’re not let’s talk and make sure you can accomplish those.
  11. Be Available – Don’t hide in an office, be available to talk to your community. I have an open door policy. I can be available for anyone in my community to give them notes, listen to what they have to say etc.
  12. Lead by example – Don’t ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t do.

I’m sure their are a ton more little things I’ve learned along the way, but these are the pretty major ones I’ve learned and hopefully a little advice and an open door to see what your theaters owners or Artistic Directors go through. I’m pretty lucky to have a wonderful comedy community at The Westside Comedy Theater. They make my job worth it and they are a great group of people.

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