Get bigger audiences and more enrollment for your Improv Classes


Are you in an improv group?  Do you want to create more customers?  Customer loyalty?  And sell more improv classes?

Building audience loyalty is vital to your group.

Try this:

During your performances, why not do a demonstration of improv techniques?  Your audiences will learn more about improv and they will enjoy the show more.  Additionally as they learn more about the skills that improvisers use to create stories together spontaneously they will be more likely to take a class.

The Segment could be a 2 to 3 minute segment at the beginning of your show to help warm up the audience and get the players on stage in a fun (as well as low-stress) way.

Possible Segments:

  • Saying Yes (as well as Yes and) helps the players create in the moment.  Demo saying no.  Then demo saying yes.
  • Establishing the "where" or environment.  Two people start a scene and do not "name where they are" and then have the same scene with naming.   "Mary, thank you for meeting me in the park, it's such a lovely day..."
  • Endowment (or "assumptions").  Demonstrate two people meeting where they do not identify each other, and then repeat it with them naming each other.  "Officer Sullivan, good morning."

Have you done this before?  What worked for you?

Please add your thoughts about possible segments below and we'll grow this list so that it can be more useful to other groups.


Improv inspired by true - anonymous audience secrets.


If you want variety in your improv...then you probably like different formats.... comedy, games and long form.

Consider asking audience members to write true personal secrets anonymously on cards before a show..and then use them in place of suggestions or to prompt the show along.

Here's the way it worked at BATS Improv recently.

I approached audience members and asked them if they'd like to contribute to the show.  If they said yes, I would tell them I was looking for personal secrets.

Something the people at work don't know about you.  A guilty pleasure.  Something your parents don't know.  A belief.  Something you didn't do.  Something you've always wanted to do.

Many of them took the challenge.  Others replied, "I don't have any secrets."  "Really", I thought.

The Improvisational format involved 5 director - directing each other in scenes.

My theme was to tell a story using the audiences secrets.

We started with this one.

Two actors on stage...married and happy for 3 years.  The gal confessed the secret on the card above to her husband.  He was not pleased and decided to leave her.

The following scene found the gal alone in a park reflecting on her situation.  An actor off stage provided her inner thoughts with the aid of the microphone.

Her husband came by and they chatted for a while.  Both interjecting more secrets from time to time.

In the next scene she went back to her childhood home to talk to her parents.  There were more confessions including the one below from her mom.

In the final scene she returns to her husband and they decide to confess all their secrets.  (I gave them each a stack to use).

Every time an actor used one of the secrets the audience showed their appreciation.

These aren't all the secrets used in the improv...but they will give you an idea of what it was like.

Yes I did choose not to use some secrets that were graphic or overly sexual ...or simply seemed like a gag.  But here's the thing I liked about the experiment:

  • I loved getting the audience involved in a personal way - and talking with them before the performance.
  • I loved being reminded that we all have parts of us that are personal and secret.
  • I loved that the material was not trivial.

I have been experimenting with secrets and wrote about it in an article in this blog.  You can find it here.

I found inspiration in the web site: PostSecret and by talking with the folks in Austin about what they've been doing with secrets.

Have you experimented with true secrets on stage?  Would you be interested in more of this work?  Please comment below or drop us a note.

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?

Article: Improv for Autistic Teens

Another great example of how improv is helping people understand social interactions. This article "Improv for autistic teens" from Encore Atlanta: Atlanta's Performing Arts Publication talks about using improv to help teens on the autism spectrum explore reading facial expressions and body language.

"What is acting? It is about reading and portraying emotions through voice and body language."

This group gives kids a place to explore and rehears interactions and relationships in the context of improv games and scenes.

Performance Anxiety


Opening night. New format. Brand new cast only together for one week with one rehearsal. If this was anything but an improv show we might be considered crazy for trying it. But this was an improv show, so there was just a normal amount of nerves that give me a pre-show burst. However tonight was different for two reasons. First, we decided to do a Film Noir Jazz Opera with no spoken dialogue. I was really excited to do it and it was a big risk having all of those elements. So, I was a little more nervous than normal.

The second reason is that I grabbed the wrong pants. The wrong pants, because  they were too small and when I put them on I started worrying that I would pop the button on them. So that was on my mind right up until we went on. That amount of extra distraction was enough to make my volume low for the first few scenes.

It all turned out well in the end, and we had a great performance and a lot of fun. But, it was the most nervous I had been in a long time. The next week, I had the right pants and things were back to a nice normal amount of nervous.

Your thoughts?

This experience got me wondering - what makes you nervous before shows? Do you get nervous? Write your story in the comments below.