There’s a common misconception that, in order to do improv and hold the attention of an audience, you need to be naturally funny. Improv doesn’t work this way. There are a few basic, fundamental rules to the game that increase your chances of success, confidence, and being funny if followed.
Here’s how improv can boost confidence (and make you a funnier person).
Accept Whatever Opportunity Comes Your Way
If you’ve done a round of improv warm-ups, you’re familiar with the “Yes, And!” game, not to be confused with “Yes, But.” This simple rule is the thread throughout all scenes – accept what your stage partner is trying to offer you, and the scene continues. Reject it, and it ends. How does this build confidence? Saying yes allows you the opportunity to explore and experience situations that you may not have normally chosen for yourself. Keeping an open mind is the key to creativity, and funnily enough, to comedy.
Stay in the Moment
The beauty of improv is that no one knows what will happen, but everyone is rooting for it to end well. The best way to approach uncertainty is to let go of how you think the scene should develop instead of letting it go where it wants. This means to listen, respond, and support—all basic tools for building confidence and trust.
Take Risks and Embrace Mistakes
No one wants to look foolish, especially in front of a crowd ready to laugh at you, but some of the best moments in improv are the ones that take you out of your comfort zone. The audience knows when you’re in a tight spot, and they want nothing more than to see how you will get out of it. Cheers come when you take on whatever challenge comes your way, and just go with it.
Trust Other Players and Be Trustworthy
The key to a great scene is when all players work together, without any grandstanding or upstaging. This can only really happen if you trust that other players are there to make you look good and vice versa. We won’t always feel confident in life, but it helps when you know others are out there to help get you back into the scene.