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Improv is more than “yes and …”

Improv can help navigate life off the stage.
Image by Ethan Barber (courtesy)
University of Minnesota’s Long-Form Improv Troupe.

Improv is short for improvisation, and the idea behind improv acting is there is no script because the performers have to make it up as they go along. 

Some University of Minnesota students have found improv helps them off-stage as well. 

A well-known technique in improv is to say, “yes and …” The goal of the phrase is to keep the scene going.  

“The most important thing is the acceptance of whatever is going on,” said Robert Wichterman, a member of Minnesota Long Form Improv. 

Wichterman added the “yes and …” phrase allows a performer to accept what was added to the scene. 

Z Dillard, another member of the University’s long-form improv troupe said improv isn’t about the individual and instead involves working with a group of people to create a scene. If someone kills off a character in a scene, the other performers must go along with that idea. 

While improv can seem to be more applicable to people who want to perform in their future careers, it can provide people with skills they will always carry with them. 

“I feel like improv has improved the way I talk to people,” Wichterman said. 

Fellow improv member Ethan Barber said improv has made it easier for him to give presentations in class. 

“If I can do a [crappy] British accent in front of an auditorium of people, it’s just not as nerve-wracking to talk about stuff you know,” Barber said. 

Improv also helps people learn how to properly think on their feet. Barber said improv has helped him in job interviews. He can take a moment and let an idea come naturally instead of saying the first thing that comes to mind. 

For co-founder of Minneapolis’s Blackout Improv Comedy, Joy Dolo, improv has had a more personal benefit. Dolo spoke about how being an African-American person in the Midwest’s predominantly white comedy scene required her to find her unique improv voice.

“I feel like improv helped me to find confidence in myself, so that I knew that when I said something, people would listen,” Dolo said. 

Throughout interviews, many of the performers encouraged anyone who is thinking about trying improv to go for it because it can improve the interpersonal and presentation skills of those who participate. 

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  • Maziyah H
    Dec 9, 2023 at 6:25 am

    improv really did reveal my confidence & inner theater kid as well. so reading this really brought back what the learning process was like& it was rewarding & fun.

  • Robert
    Nov 6, 2023 at 1:32 pm

    If anyone is interested, two university of minnesota improv performances this month – Nov. 10th and Nov. 17 in 10 church street, both start at 7pm. Follow @mlfimprov and @minnprov on instagram!