Executive Branch

10 Tips for Getting Ahead in Improv — Part 2

Last week, I outlined the first five points of my ten-point plan for getting ahead in improv. Read last week’s blog here.

This week, I’m back with more of my favorite pieces of wisdom. I hope this helps you, and if you have any questions for me, please email me at jimcarrane@gmail.com.

6. Everyone says it’s important not to be a dick in the improv community. How do I stay off the Dick List?
Getting on the Dick List is like stopping payment on your student loans — it stays on your credit report for seven years. If you want to stay off of the Dick List, be respectful. Speak your truth and know that you are not always right. In any group, you will need to learn to give and take. What seems so important and worth fighting for in a group or show will seem stupid in a couple of weeks.

7. How do you get over jealousy of other people’s success?
We are all jealous, like we all breathe. So admit it. When you deny it, it comes out sideways, and you end up alienating people. When you admit it, you have a chance to get rid of it.

Jealousy hates when you start creating because creativity cuts it by an average of 54 percent. So start creating: Work on a solo show, form an improv group, write a book, teach your own workshop. And if that doesn’t make you feel less jealous, pray for the people you are jealous of to keep being successful.

Also, remember that the person you are jealousy about today may help you out in the in the future. I cannot tell you how many guests I’ve had on Improv Nerd that I was jealous of their success, and because I was not a dick and let my jealousy come out sideways, they ended up appearing on the show.

8. Why do I even need to ask people to come to my shows?
Because it’s good practice in getting bigger and getting seen, which is one of your jobs as an improviser. In fact, I believe asking people to come to your shows is as important as any class you are going to take.

Most improvisers ignore the process of asking people to come to their shows because on some level they don’t really want to get bigger. Instead, they hide behind social media or have this attitude that they “just want to show up and play.”

Fine, stay small. I still struggle with this, but at least I am not kidding myself — I know am resisting getting bigger.

9. What is the best way to get people to come to my show?
Let me start by saying that Facebook is great, I love it, but creating a Facebook event and inviting people to it is not enough to get people to come to your show. You need to do more than that.

Doing something personal – such as a personal email or actually picking up the phone and talking to your friends and family – is harder, but it’s way more valuable. When I have a show, I typically write an email to my friends and say something like this: “I need your support. I have a show this Sunday, and I am really scared because I am interviewing Judd Apatow.”

You can also try other methods, such as creating flyers and postcards and sending out press releases. But nothing is going to beat asking people individually if they would be willing to support you.  Remember, it’s not about the results necessarily, it about the asking.

10. What is the quickest way to get better faster?
Get comfortable with failing. That is why you are taking classes: to learn how to fail. Once you get good at failing, you are ready do it in front of people. There’s no better teacher out there then failing in front of an audience, many times. Those lessons stick to you like Velcro. They enter your brain in a different way. Yes, it’s painful, but there are no short cuts. The more you fail, the faster you will get better, so fail, fail, fail all the way to the top.

Want to study with Jimmy Carrane? Jimmy’s next Fundamentals Art of Slow Comedy Class begins June 28. Only $249 if you register by June 16. Sign up today!

5 replies
  1. Lary Glen Anderson
    Lary Glen Anderson says:

    great site jim,
    doing comedy and voice impressions and singing been a great life , my new show is doing my real well music and song of Johnnie Ray . show is becoming bigger ever day . you have a great sit love ya for it , yes about helping others and about the love and entertainment! .LGA


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