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What Is Improv?

Improv can very simply be defined as the process of creating art without any prior preparation or planning. While it can apply to a wide variety of topics, usually the term is used to refer to comedic shows whereby performers step up on stage and present material that has not been thought of before but is instead being made in the moment. Usually, performers may start by asking for a suggestion from the audience to both inspire themselves and convince the audience that the show has not been pre-planned.

While there are many forms of improv that exist, the two general categories that can be referred to are Short-form improv and Long-form improv. Long form improv consists of story-based improvisation focused on characters and plot and the comedy usually comes from getting the audience invested in the story and characters being presented. Short-form improv is usually quicker and focuses on structured games or devices around which the scene is to take place.

The most common misconception that exists is that one needs to be funny or witty to be good at improv. This is not only untrue but can actually be detrimental to a show if the improviser tries to focus on making jokes. Anybody is capable of learning the skills needed to do improv such as communication, awareness, and the ability to make connections. As any improviser will tell you, these skills are just as beneficial off stage as they are on it.