10 Acting Improv Tips

Here are 10 acting improv tips that you can use whether you’ve just started improv or you’re a veteran player.

  1. Don’t block other players. When acting improv, you should always take suggestions or “offers” that others give to you and run with them. For example, if someone hands you an imaginary apple, take it–don’t refuse it. Afterwards, you can eat it, throw it, or dance with it, but if you start refusing offers you’re going to shut down the scene.
  2. Don’t make fun of others. Improv is hard for most people, and it takes a lot of guts to go out there and make a fool of yourself. Acting is not about making people look bad; it’s about working together to create entertainment.
  3. Don’t steal the scene. Michael Scott (the boss from”The Office”) is known for stealing the scene in his improv class. Keep in mind that every person in the scene is equally important. Don’t get upset if you don’t end up being the star every time.
  4. Make a fool of yourself. There is no such thing as pride in improv. When you’re acting, you have to put yourself out there completely, and not worry if you get laughed at. You’ll be much funnier if you’re not always thinking about how funny you are, or trying to be “cool.”
  5. Make use of your body. Use every part of your body. This isn’t like stand-up, in which using your mouth is the most important part. Acting improv relies heavily on physical humor, so make the magic happen.
  6. Don’t take things too seriously. When you’re acting, there might be times that something one of the actors says frustrates or upsets you. If the person frequently ignores the rules and makes humor at others’ expenses, then you can say something. However, if it’s just something small that you are making a big deal out of, let it go.
  7. Practice your skills. Improv, like any skill, needs to be practiced frequently if you want to improve. Attend classes, participate, do research, watch videos, and even host a party night during which you and your friends have fun and practice at the same time.
  8. Get good at quick thinking. Coming up with good ideas quickly is a key to improv acting success. Use your downtime to work on coming up with ideas. For example, brainstorm uses for rubber chickens or songs about feet while you’re sitting in the car during rush hour traffic.
  9. Focus on a particular improv skill. Some people are good at creating and singing impromptu songs. Some people excel at one-liners. Others really get laughs by using their bodies in interesting ways. You should have some skill in all acting talents, but working on perfecting one talent will make you stand out.
  10. Lose your inhibitions. It’s scary to take risks in front of people you know, but it’s even scarier to do it in front of a room full of strangers. Practicing will improve your skills, but you also need to practice drawing attention to yourself in general. Obviously, don’t start dancing during your next office meeting, but feel free to volunteer for hypnotism, the local charity dunk tank, or a community organizer position.
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