1. The sheer number of extremely successful actors (specifically comedic actors) who have started with improv classes is endless. Consider this: Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Amy Poehler, Mike Meyers, Halle Berry, Jack McBrayer, and Steven Colbert all started with improv. Doing improv must be doing something right…
2. Improv allows you the opportunity to make an amazing network of actors and artists. With the opportunity to form a team or troupe (like Amy Poehler, Matt Basser, Ian Roberts, and Matt Walsh creating the Upright Citizens Brigade in NYC in the 1990s, which now is one of the best reputed improve theaters in the United States and New York), the networking opportunities at an improv theater are endless.
3. Many directors (Judd Apatow of Knocked Up, to name one, Christopher Guest of This Is Spinal Tap to name another) will ask their actors to improv on screen these days. In order to get the most natural possible performance, especially in a comedic film where it is easy for actors to get stuck in a way of saying their lines, directors will ask their actors to improvise. Some of the most well known film scenes are actually improvised: remember the scene in The Godfather where Clemenza says “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli”? The line was originally just “leave the gun,” but actor Richard Castellano improvised the second half of the line, giving the scene a permanent place in cinematic history.
4. Improv will give you the confidence to screw up on stage (and, perhaps more importantly, in life). If your biggest fear is dropping the ball in front of the audience, then improv is the right thing for you. Without anything to guide you, improv can mean the difference between completely breaking character because something went wrong on stage, and carrying on like that was meant to be part of the play.
5. You’ll find a lot of physicality in improv. When you’re PRETENDING to be a part of a machine, or a pair of disembodied hands, or the hunchback of notre dame, or a child you end up having to look at what your body is doing. The Marx Brothers, Charlie Chaplin, and Buster Keaton were all notorious from using improv on their film shoots. While this is obviously impressive in the case of the Marx Brothers who seamlessly introduced improvisational physical comedy into their routines, in Charlie Chaplin’s silent films it became even more amazing because he was charged with conveying entire stories with his physical movements. Improv will help you learn to use your body in acting in ways you previously would not have considered.