How to Spot a Healthy Improv Troupe

Maybe your dream troupe is patient and grounded, or maybe it’s stylized and off-the-wall. Maybe it’s short form, maybe it’s long form. Maybe it’s a dozen people, maybe it’s just you and one other player.

Regardless, you want to be in a healthy troupe. Not just a funny troupe or an impressive troupe, but a healthy troupe. If you’re not healthy, it doesn’t matter how charismatic or witty or patient you are; things will get miserable.

What does healthy look like? In my experience, a healthy troupe is characterized by:

  • Eagerness — The players are eager to try anything, eager to learn from critique and experience, and eager to support others.
  • Honesty — The players are open and honest, both on stage and off. On stage, honesty often begets comedy. Off stage, honesty begets solid relationships — which, in turn, creates good comedy. As conflict arises, players talk about it in person rather than gossiping or shelving.
  • Showmanship — While practicing improv can be therapeutic, it is not therapy; it is preparation for a performance. Players work on technique to improve their shows and care for their audience.

This is the kind of troupe I want to coach.

It’s the kind of troupe I want to play with.

So I guess it’s the kind of player I ought to be.

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