Improv Is A Team Sport

Comedy is typically thought of as a solo pursuit, from the high school class clown to legendary stand ups, usually, people are trying to be the funniest: the single most funny person in a room at any one time.

Improv is different. In improv, the challenge is not being the funniest person on stage, but understanding that every single person is integral to making comedy. We are greater than the sum of our comedic talents.

Look, I’m a writer, improviser, an all-round indoor kid, but I think sport is a great parallel to our experience in making and performing improv comedy.

There’s swimmers and there’s netballers. If you’re a swimmer, you jump in that pool every day knowing that, win or lose, the outcome is on your shoulders. You might train with a squad, and have a team of coaches around you, but at the end of the race, you’re the only one in your lane.

Netballers can’t play without a team. You might be an awesome shooter, but you can’t defend and shoot at the same time. You need your teammates to feed you the ball so you can (“take your time” “here if you need”) shoot for goal. Your skills are of no use if you’re not part of a strong team.

We build strong teams off the court, so that when it’s time to play, each team member knows that their teammate has their back.

That means training in the offseason, turning up and doing the drills, memorising the plays, practicing the moves. Being part of a team means understanding how you can play better to make the game better for everyone on the team.

You might be the world’s best shooter, but if you haven’t done the work, you won’t know what your teammates are doing, and you might never get the ball.

The best part of being on a team is that as you strive, struggle and improve, you have people around you who celebrate your achievements and understand your near misses. Your success is their success, and the only way you can win is together.

At LMA we teach long-form improv, which is all about the ensemble. In fact, we teach an “ensemble philosophy”. It may sound fancy, but really it’s all about having each other’s backs, making each other look good (and funny), and scoring lots of laughs.

Lauren is a writer and improviser who recently moved to Sydney from Melbourne, where she performed improv weekly, produced monthly improv shows, and ran comedy workshops for women. Lauren is working with LMA’s social media and production teams. If you want to get in touch you can email her: lauren@laugh-masters.com.au