Posts tagged improv tips



Mr Doctor

Li’l Dumpy

Rémy Martin

Turtleporridge Vacuum the Fifth



Bacon Smith

Maskie, Capey and Captain Spandex


Greg, I mean Chris, I mean, Chris-Greg


Potato Jones

Jenkins “Get in here!” Johnson

Clorox Bleachman

The last thing you bought at Ikea

Photo © Cameron Wyllie

Photo © @cameronwyllie


Photo © Kevin Thom

Photo © People and Chairs

Photo © People and Chairs

How many times have you felt an unmistakeable emotion from someone – sadness, fear, joy, rage – without a word being uttered? Vibrations are powerful. Before you open your mouth on stage, try listening with your whole body and tune in to the feeling that’s already there.

Cameron and I saw True Blue at the Fringe festival, and five days later, it’s stayed with me.

The show is an hour of unscripted theatre in the style of NYPD Blue or True Detective. The pace is slower than most improvised sets, but it’s every bit as compelling. Unlike most improv, the actors weren’t going for laughs (although there were plenty to keep us entertained). But what was really refreshing was seeing improvisers sit in scenes long enough for nuances to emerge, and dialogue to breathe.

One of my favourite performances was by Shanda Bezic, an actor who I was surprised to discover only started learning improv last year. Her characters were grounded and authentic, yet still playful.

At the other end of the scale was Anders Yates’ hilarious turn as a coroner. It was clear he didn’t know much about coroner…ing, but scene partners Colin Munch and Amy Matysio used this gift to their advantage, and the audience’s delight.

I came away thinking how we don’t have to know everything, or be “expert improvisers,” as long as we commit fully to each tiny moment, and each other, on stage. And how being different – in format, style, or approach – is a wonderful thing.

True Blue was named Patron’s Pick, and there are still two more chances to see it this Sunday.

Photo © Connor Low

“Let’s say you shook hands with 20 people today, and 19 of them shook your hand in a way you expect. If the 20th person shook your hand and then pulled you in close and licked your neck, you would remember it long after you forgot the other 19 people.”

Kisses 2

Image © People and Chairs

Need some improv guidance but don’t have time to delve into a book or podcast? Check out this video series from Paul Vaillancourt. The co-founder of iO West and a member of legendary improv team Beer, Shark, Mice, Vaillancourt shares what he’s learned from three decades of performing and teaching.

Topics include Getting A Suggestion, Starting A Scene, Status, and everybody’s favourite, The Thing About Pornography. Click here or below to watch.

Image © Paul Vaillancourt

Image © Paul Vaillancourt