The Best and Worst Improv Suggestions

The Best and Worst Improv Suggestions
Photo by Sophie Spree on Unsplash

Have you been attending improv shows, and now you’re ready to give your first suggestion? Next time you're ready to see a show download Improv Tonight to find a theatre near you! Check out this list of tips to feel confident about your suggestion! Of course, reading it before the show would probably be most useful…

When giving improv suggestions, always be respectful and considerate of your fellow performers. If you have an idea that you think would be funny, but you're not sure if it will work, go ahead and try it out!

Being considerate is the most important part of the suggestion. It is not every day someone asks you to yell something out in front of a room full of people, so be mindful of the audience when thinking of what to say. You’ll need to be quick on your feet for your suggestion to be heard first, so it’s best to choose something that you know everyone will enjoy and not find offensive. Overall, slurs, swear words, dirty words, or anything else that would make others uncomfortable should be left out. The improvisers will help guide you in the right direction, as they usually offer some kind of instruction, so it should be easy to quickly word associate with an appropriate topic.

If you're not sure what to suggest, try to think of something that would fit the scene or the characters that are already established. For example, if two characters are arguing, you could suggest that they start singing their dialogue instead.

Often in short-form improv, the performers will ask for a suggestion while the scene is still happening. Of course, it is important to only give suggestions when prompted! If the actors ask for a “location that can fit in this room,” they’re usually asking for a space that fits inside a home or a mall, like a kitchen, public bathroom, backyard barbecue, etc.

Remember that the best improv is often spontaneous and unplanned. If you're feeling stuck, don't be afraid to take a risk and go with your gut. You never know what might happen!

Sometimes, an improviser will ask you for a specific suggestion. For example, to start a game, they might ask for, “ a strange line of dialogue you’ve heard today.” This is where it can be tricky to remember your day, think of something strange, and blurt it out before the next person. Again, word association is always key! Perhaps your mind wandered to an awkward interaction you had with a server, or your overheard someone having a loud and personal phone conversation. As long as it feels true to the moment, feel free to shout out the line that comes to mind!

The worst improv suggestion, please never suggest this. You have been warned. "Dildo"…if the actors at The Second City were paid a nickel for every time someone shouted dildo at them, they’d all be paid fairly for the first time. Overall, stick with your gut, and just like the performers, play to the height of your intelligence! A quick, sincere suggestion, will start the show on the right foot every time!