Can improv be taught or is it a natural talent?

We were in New York last week and caught a show at Upright Citizens Brigade. It was an early show and I believe the performers were at various spots in their training program. I imagine that most of the performers are considering a career in show business, and I suspect that most of the performers would have been the best improvisers when they were in high school.

This is all purely speculation on my part but it brings me to a point. It was clear watching the shows that one or two performers in each group had “it” and the rest didn’t. After all that work, all that training, all that time taking classes and doing shows, barely a handful of performers shined. This made us wonder – Is improv a skill that can be taught or is it a natural talent?

We posed this question on our Facebook wall and got some fantastic discussion. You can read it here.

I tend to agree with the responses that say it’s a little bit of both. A good teacher can teach any motivated person to improvise but innate talent plus training is the only thing that’s going to bring about Wayne Brady quality. Like all performing arts, most of the learning involves unlearning everything our parents ingrained in us – Don’t make noise, don’t rock the boat, don’t tell made up stories, don’t rock the boat, don’t make up stories, conform.

What do you think? You can comment here or on the original post.

About the author

Craig Mason