The 4 “Fresh” Secrets to a successful Improv Business


Your business as an improviser, actor, clown or artists is still a business.  So what’s are the secret to a successful improv business? Okay, if we knew the 4 things that could guarantee your improv business a success, there would be many more successful improv businesses.  The best we have is what the business world calls “best practices”.  Best practices are generally identified by looking at successful companies and asking, what are they doing right?

Sometimes this approach leads to innovation and sometimes to tried-and-true business fundamentals.  See if the following story offers you any insights into your improv business.

Traveling in Mexico recently, I found myself in a conversation with a man who owns a bakery in the Pacific Northwest.  He mentioned that his bakery had been in operation for almost 40 years.

I couldn’t resist asking him, “what the secret of your businesses success?”

Without missing a beat a big smile came across his face and he said, “just 4 things.”  Then like a good storyteller he paused.  So I leaned in and asked, “Could you share them?”

He said, “I’d be pleased to.”

“My business has been successful for so many years because:

  1. We make a product that looks good.
  2. We make a product that tastes good.
  3. Our products are served by people who like people
  4. Our products are priced fairly”

I immediately thought of my improv company in San Francisco...and how it would fair when held against these ‘best practices’.  (Very well I’m pleased to say).

Here’s the process I used to translate these bakery success secrets to an improv business.

  1. Does the environment look good?  Is the theater (performance space) clean and pleasant?  Are the performers and support staff well dressed?
  2. Does the performance achieve its goal?  Make people laugh? Deliver a good time?
  3. Do your performers enjoy people?  This may seem like a simple question but I’ve seen some players who don’t want to talk to the audience.  For example, they’ll resist standing at the door after the show and thanking the audience for coming.  Or they’ll ask for scene suggestions by shouting at the audience as if they’re a pack of adolescent children who need a loud stern voice instead of just talking with them.
  4. Are your ticket prices fair?  Do they fall within the other choices they have for an evening’s entertainment?  If you company is continually offering discounts your ticket may be over priced.

How about your company?