My Favorite Pieces of Improv Wisdom

I’ve been doing improv for more than 30 years, so I’ve had lots of time to think about it. And I’ve come to realize there are lots of great pieces of improv wisdom that can help people on stage and in their lives.

So about a year ago, I started jotting down these little gems of wisdom and putting them out on social media. They’re kind of like fortune cookies for improvisers, minus the cookie.

They’re not revolutionary concepts, of course; but I hope these little tidbits of #ImprovWisdom have helped you to become a better improviser, and reminded you to keep learning. Here are few of my favorites:

#131: Vagueness is the number one cause of death to any scene.

#133: Beware: Too many “bits” can get in the way of people getting to really know you.

#134: The best PR? Being nice.

#135: You get better by DOING.

#138: Sometimes the best inspiration is a bad show.

#139: Your best shows are ones where you barely try.

#140: The thing people are drawn to is authenticity. So for God’s sake, be yourself.

#141: The more mistakes you make, the closer you are to mastery.

#142: Taking a break is not quitting; it’s making room for inspiration.

#143: Object work is there to support you, not to annoy you.

#144: It’s impossible to succeed in improv without failing.

#145: Putting other people down is not getting ahead. It’s just being a jerk.

#147: If you are not having fun in your off-stage life, how do you expect to have any fun on stage?

#148: If you don’t take time to recharge your batteries, they may die on you in the middle of a show.

#156: How much effort does it really take to give a compliment?

#157: The best kind of improvising is when you don’t know what’s going to happen next.

#158: Telling people what to do in scenes is not improvising; it’s controlling.

#159: When you are frustrated the most in improv class, you are actually learning the most.

#161: Death to improv is thinking you are finished learning.

#166: listening is the quickest way to gain respect.

#178: How long you’ve been doing something doesn’t matter, but how you treat people does.

#180: A selfish player sucks. A selfish character is brilliant.

#182: If you’re “too good” to take class and workshops, you’re “too good” to get any better. You’ll never improve.

#216: “Yes, And” starts with– “Don’t be a dick.”

#218: Just because your scene partner isn’t saying anything doesn’t mean you’re not getting anything from them.

#219: You’re not as clever as you think.


Have you had a favorite #ImprovWisdom that we’ve posted, or one of your own? Tell us in the comments below!


To hear Jimmy’s improv wisdom firsthand, sign up for his upcoming class, The Art of Slow Comedy Level 1: The (Fun)damentals, now before spots fill up. The Early Bird Special ends Aug. 31!