The short answer to the question of whether or not taking an improv class will help someone have a better stand-up comedy routine is – yes, but not in the way you are probably hoping for.
Here’s why I say that:
First, think for a moment about the term “improv class”.
If improv was all “off the top of the head” comments or reactions between improv performers, why does somebody need a class for that? Well, the reality is that…
Improv classes help performers work out the scenarios that will be “improvised” on stage before they are ever “performed” in front of a live audience.
The way they pull this off is quite ingenious. They already have the “improv” scenarios worked out with the improv performer’s baseline responses pre-rehearsed or otherwise mapped out before a show.
Then, they collect additional “scenarios” from the audience before a show, appearing to “spontaneously” work through these “fresh” improv scenarios during the show, with the audience not realizing that the improv scenarios they are performing are already mostly “canned” so to speak.
All the while, “fresh scenarios” from collected from an audience can then be worked out in advance off stage for future “improv” performances. Pretty slick, huh?
Don’t get me wrong – some of what is presented at an improv show is true improvisation that happens on the fly. But the reality is that most of it is not.
Otherwise, there would be no real need for improv classes – only auditions for talented people who could do it.
Which brings me back to the original question – how can an improv class help you when it comes to helping you develop your stand-up comedy routine?
- Taking an improv class can improve your confidence in front of audiences. It is certainly easier to work with an interactive team of performers than to deliver a stand-alone stand-up comedy routine. Confidence in front of audiences is critical for success as a comedian.
- Taking an improv class may also help you with audience interactions as a comedian, for dealing with hecklers, audience interruptions, etc. that cause you to detract from your stand-up comedy routine or monologue.
- And taking an improv class and subsequently performing improv is a valuable skill set that you can add to your comedy entertainment resume.
So, will taking an improv class and performing improv help your stand-up comedy? Yes, in the ways I have described.
But as far as help with developing and structuring a monologue style stand-up comedy routine that will generate headliner level laughter, I am afraid that taking an improv class wouldn’t be of much benefit. Why?
Because developing and delivering a stand-up comedy routine and performing improv with other interacting performers are two separate and distinct comedy entertainment presentation processes.
However I will say that I believe improv classes are ideal for those comedians who ultimately want to enter the world of acting or sketch comedy, since improv is so heavily dependent upon predetermined and rehearsed interaction between multiple performers.
And check out the related YouTube video below for some additional insight on why it is important to expand your comedy skills and resume beyond being just a stand-up comedian.