Many have expressed interest in improv classes I have hosted. Maybe you read the article about why you should take an improv class. Some have had questions about what they can expect. I’ve compiled the most common ones here. I assume that these answers apply to most intro-level improv classes, regardless of the teacher and location.
If you are asking one or more of these questions, you are in the right place:
- What exactly is improv?
- Do I need to have any acting or improv experience?
- What kinds of games or exercises will we do?
- Are you going to make me do things I don’t want to do?
- Is everybody going to be watching me?
- Do I have to know lots of pop culture references and stuff?
- Do I have to be funny?
Q: What exactly is improv?
A: Improv (short for improvisation) is the art of presentation with limited or no preparation. Practicing improv means practicing listening, concentration, and trusting yourself—skills that will benefit you in any aspect of life!
Q: Do I need to have any acting or improv experience?
A: No, just come ready to try new things!
Q: What kinds of games or exercises will we do?
A: The specific games and exercises in class will vary. If you participate in multiple classes, there will probably be some games you’ve done before, and some that are new. I do try to keep the structure relatively the same, however. Our time together will be a gradual ramp, starting with ice-breaker-type games to help us all forget the stresses of the day, get to know each other, and loosen up. Then we’ll play several games that emphasize listening, agreeing, and contributing—the fundamentals of improv. Toward the end, we’ll try a couple games that are more difficult, but you’ll be ready for them—I promise!—a nice, healthy challenge to prove to yourself that you can do it. And then, to wrap up, we’ll cool off with something fast and fun. We’ll set each other up for success each step of the way!
Q: Are you going to make me do things I don’t want to do?
A: Your level of involvement is up to you. I encourage you to get as much out of the time as you can, and that comes more through participation than observation, but I will (generally) not call on you to try something without you being willing. Take it from a past participant:
Q: Is everybody going to be watching me?
A: If by “everybody” you mean the other people in the class, well, yes. But that doesn’t mean that all eyes are on you and only you. Some activities, especially toward the beginning, are for the entire group. We might be doing something silly, but we’re all doing it together. Nobody is watching you. Other activities are for a small group of 2-4 actors, and we’ll repeat the game a few times. So, whether you prefer to jump right in, or watch it done first, there is an opportunity for you!
Q: Do I need to know lots of pop culture references and stuff?
A: No—those references are popular in live shows, perhaps, but not necessary to succeed in class. Knowing what a cat acts like will be may more useful that knowing who Nicki Minaj is.
Q: Do I have to be funny?
A: If you notice, I’ve never actually mentioned anything in this Q&A about being funny. That’s because it’s not a requirement! Improv-ers will tell you that being true is more important than being funny. Your own life and experience gives you plenty of ideas to draw from and contribute to the class. I certainly won’t pressure you to be funny. Though, I think you’ll surprise yourself about how funny you actually are!
If you have any other questions or concerns about taking an improv class, please let me know! Have fun!