Improv in the media

Improvisational training is increasingly widely recognised as a valuable training tool. And it’s also garnering media attention, as people reflect on what it is that improvisers do, and how that way of thinking can be applied in other contexts.

Below are some articles, written by and for people who want to know more.

slate logo_smGetting to “Yes, And” How improv comedy skills became a must-have for entrepreneurs

By Seth Stevenson -Slate Magazine

What can improv teach worker bees? The secret is in the “yes, and” ethos. When they’re collaborating onstage, improv performers never reject one another’s ideas—they say “yes, and” to accept and build upon each new contribution. “It’s a total philosophy of creativity,” says Mandel. “ ‘Yes, and’ creates, while ‘no’ stops the flow.”

That’s an important lesson in any business setting that demands cooperation and innovation. Improv also requires excellent listening skills, rewards those who shed their inhibitions and leap into the middle of the group dynamic, and offers valuable lessons about the wisdom of shrugging off setbacks. Full article.

forbes iconWhy Improv Training Is Great Business Training

By Jesse Scinto – Forbes Magazine

In fact, studies have shown that people can improve their communication skills and lower their anxiety with regular practice. Improv’s low-stakes training increases the likelihood that team members will feel comfortable communicating in a variety of work situations. “Yes, and” is the key.

“When you say yes to something and find a way to make it work, you actually are coming up with solutions,” says Andrews. “I believe there’s a longer-lasting satisfaction to saying yes and affirming things.”

gu-logo-smMove over Bill Murray, forget Tina Fey: how I became an improv king

By Tim Jonze – The Guardian

We’re taught how to let people have the spotlight, how to take the spotlight for ourselves and how to bring others into the action. At one point I find myself happily skipping around the room while emitting a high-pitched “beep”, until others take over to start screaming, or coughing, or crying hysterically. I wonder what my friends would think if they could see me now.


CNN_International_logo_2014_smWhy using improvisation to teach business skills is no joke

By Mark Tutton – CNN

“Improvisation isn’t about comedy, it’s about reacting — being focused and present in the moment at a very high level,” Robert Kulhan, an adjunct assistant professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, in North Carolina, and CEO of Business Improvisations, told CNN.

As well as teaching people to react and adapt, he said improvisation can teach creativity, innovation, communication, teamwork and leadership. Full article.


the-new-york-times-logo_smThe Power of Starting with Yes

Tony Schwartz – New York Times Dealbook

Starting with “yes” energizes, creates safety and trust and fuels creativity. I learned this viscerally during an improvisation workshop, run by the Magnet Theater, at a recent company offsite meeting. One of the basic tenets of improvisational comedy, it turns out, is to start with “yes” — and even more specifically with “yes and.” When you work with someone in a scene, your challenge is to resist disputing, challenging, or negating whatever your fellow actor says, and instead embrace, work with and build on it.

What I realized quickly was how good it felt to say “Yes and,” and how much more smoothly it made the scene move forward. So why does “no” so frequently remain the default response in the workplace? Full article.


good_magazine_sm Best Kept Secret to Creating Social Change: Improv

By Marc Evan Jackson, Alex Gorosh – Good Magazine

I am an actor. I make my living improvising. But improvisation’s beneficial impacts can and will help anyone, in any profession, of any age, in any circumstance. Seriously. We’ve taught this to prisoners – prisoners in prison – and they have raved about the good it’s done in their lives. Surely it can help you too. Full article.