Resources, rules, exercises and examples for improv. Feel free to include any anything or comment below!

1. Intro to Improv - The Rules

Improv is not about moving forward, but "it's about backing up"

Once you visualize something you've received (listening is key), you can go backwards and recreate a scenario (by building on top of what you've received) so that you can get to a point where you can "jam" on it

  • The first few actions are about "backing up" and "setting up the rules" of the game, and then you "play the game"

Sometimes, there isn't clarity yet, so you need to close listen to what the partner is giving you, and offer something that is aligned with the previous scenario.

All Improv is about WHO, WHAT, WERE


You need to dive right in instead of wait for the right moment or the clarity. It's better to commit to something than to wait around. Just do it!

Being yourself (as a heuristic)

Behaving as if you were in the situation yourself (rather than trying to have a killer line) - how would you react in the real world?

Tina Fey's Principles

Tina Fey's principles

1. Agree

3. There are no mistakes, only opportunities (even if there's a misunderstanding, you take it and build on it, you always keep moving!)

4. It's your responsibility to contribute (don't always ask questions, assume that you

  1. Use "Yes And": jump on board with your teammates' "offers", the leads
  2. Play: focus on the moment and forget about conventions
  3. Active Listening: being mindful and hearing all of the elements that are said in a conversation
  4. Learn to fail: demystify the consequences of failure, just move on
  5. Trust: trust each other to be more creative and failure-driven
  6. Be a team player: make your partner "look like a genius" rather than take the focus yourself

2. Exercises/Activities

  • Word Ball: "pass" a word, and respond by passing a related word to someone else
  • 5 things: name a category, and point to someone, who must name 5 items, and point to someone else after
  • Firing line: each member has to go through the rest of people in line and respond to their word with a related term

  • Two partners and two ppl who will suggest quotes.
  • A place and relationship between the two is suggested: then the two will act it out until they go to the other two supporters that will give them a quote


  • Get a ball. Throw it at the wall. When you catch the ball You change character. Say a line as this character. Throw the ball.
  • Being able to react to what's in front of you as a character with a clear emotional POV is one of the most important and useful skills you can develop as an improviser, and it's something that's easy to practice on your own.
    • During some off time -- this works great for something to do while driving on your own or watching tv -- take on a character / emotional point-of-view and react to everything around you. Don't just choose one thing to react to; you want to be able to drag that POV across all sorts of things you observe. e.g. Debbie Downer as you drive along.

3. Examples