An older man in a tan sweater raises one arm. A young man, to the right and further back, wears a suit and tie and walks purposefully. they are in a classroom with yellow walls.

Sample Exercises: Improv

ArtStream makes improv accessible for everyone!

What is improv?

Improv is making up a scene and acting it out. If you’ve ever seen the show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” you already have an idea of what improv is like.

Sometimes the scene is only a few lines long. Sometimes there are no lines at all. Making something up on the spot seems hard but with a little practice, you can do it!

Two young women from the waist up in a white room. The woman on the left wears a pink shirt and has dark hair. She leans over to comfort the woman on the right. The woman on the right is holding a piece of paper. Her eyes are wide and she looks very scared.

Photo by Patricia Woolsey

Why improv?

Practicing improv can help lessen social anxiety and is a great way to practice understanding.

One of the most important things in improv is to always be positive. You never deny your scene partner’s suggestion. You accept it and add to it. You say, “Yes, and…” This makes improv classes naturally supportive, positive, and a great place to create new friendships.

Improv games

We play improv games in every class to practice thinking fast, thinking creatively, and supporting each other’s ideas.

Top 7

You get a topic and then you have to name the top seven things within that topic. The rest of the class counts along with you and encourages you. The twist is, your top seven doesn’t have to be right. You just have to say seven things. Here’s an example:

Leader: Kim, name the top seven breakfast cereals.

Kim: Okay, Apple Jacks.

Group: ONE!

Kim: Cheerios.

Group: TWO!

Kim: Honey nut cheerios.

Group: THREE!

Kim: Wasabi cheerios?

Group: FOUR!

Kim: Scrambled eggs?

Group: FIVE!

Kim: My mom’s car.

Group: SIX!

Kim:  The one…with the tiger and, like, “They’re grrr-eat!”

Group: SEVEN!

Funky Floor

The group walks around the room as the leader directs them through a series of environments. Participants mime what it would be like to walk through that environment.

Sometimes it can be very simple, like “It’s a very hot day.” Sometimes, it can be complex, like, “There’s very deep snow and the wind is blowing. And you’re very cold. And you are dragging your pack behind you.” Sometimes they can be very silly, like, “Now the floor is covered in three inches of peanut butter.”

It’s fun to see how different people in the group interpret the idea.

Improv scenes

At ArtStream, we sometimes take a few minutes to plan a scene before we perform it.

Some scenes are very silly, while other scenes are about everyday life, like checking out at the grocery store:

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