Chris Gethard on Learning Improv Technique

American actor, comedian, and writer Chris Gethard recently filmed a Big Think video on the importance of learning improv technique. In “Learning Basic Improv Technique Will Improve Your Whole Life,” Gethard stresses the importance of improvisation.  He states its principles are fundamental: slow down, listen, have integrity, and be positive.

“I think the key to improv is always listening,” says Gethard. “It’s embracing, it’s positivity. It’s hearing things and not shutting them down.”

“And in the business world I would imagine that’s very invaluable, the idea that it’s very frustrating just to be told no all the time,” continues Gethard. “Improv really revolves around the idea of like, whatever you come at me with I’m going to say yes to it.”

Gethard feels improv has real-life practicality because it makes people live fully by staying present.

“Knowing basic improv technique helps one stay in the moment and live the present fully,” says Gethard. “While performance and theatre turn on storytelling, improv can be stifled when actors try too hard to create a narrative. The same is true in life, says Gethard. When we stay in the moment with people and respond openly and positively, we’ll get better results.”

For Gethard, improv made him a more social person.

“I think one of the things about listening is that it’s always at its most powerful when it’s present, when it’s right here, when it’s right now,” says Gethard. “And that’s a lesson about improv that I think just made me a much more social person. Like, it just made me. When I would go have pitch meetings I was just able to have it better even in my personal life.”


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Chris Gethard is an actor, comedian, and writer. He is the host of the New York City based talk show The Chris Gethard Show, and the podcast Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People, in which he talks to one anonymous caller every episode for one full hour hour and can’t hang up first. Chris has also acted on Broad City, Inside Amy Schumer, Parks & Recreation and more. He is the author of the comic memoir A Bad Idea I’m About to Do.

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