Taking improv to work

Creative Commons image used with permission. Photo credit: Ed Schipul, a web designer based in Houston, Texas.

Anchorage is lucky to have two improv troupes, Urban Yeti and Scared Scriptless. It also has lots of active high school students who love improv enough to compete in an annual Improvaganza! competition hosted by the local TBA Theatre. UAA’s own improv hotbed is known as the Ad-lib Alchemists.

Enjoying improv as pure entertainment is one thing, but the worlds of business and work—always in search of a competitive edge, actively incorporate many of improv’s general principles. Their goal? Bring forward more staff creativity and better-developed ideas that might benefit the bottom line, or simply advance thinking.

Beyond the world of work, others sing the praises of improv as good mental and behavioral muscles to build for life. So what are some of those principles? These may not be the official “rules” (I found them on the Internet, thank you Wikipedia!), but here’s a start:

  • Listen: easier said than done, and that’s exactly the point
  • Agreement: say yes and add something, don’t reject ideas
  • Team Work: have a group mind, think of others
  • Don’t Block: stealing jokes / not listening / changing topic
  • Relationship: focus on connection between characters, not just subject of scene
  • Initiation: who, what, when to set the scene
  • Point of View, Opinion and Intention: have them, these help express and build your character
  • Be in Character: maintain character throughout the scene
  • Don’t Ask Questions: too many questions can make your partner do all the work
  • Make Active Choices: Do something. Don’t be talking heads

On Hometown Alaska, a few of our resident experts will join us to demonstrate improv and the games they use to practice. But more than that, all our guests also work for a living. Day jobs. To a one, they say they’ve taken improv into work and life, and they’ll share how it influences what goes on there.



HOST: Kathleen McCoy


  • John Hanus, Urban Yeti and BP Alaska
  • Aneliese Palmer, local and youth-focused improv and the Anchorage Museum
  • John Parsi, local improv and theatre, attorney at K&L Gates



Open rehearsal, Urban Yeti and Scared Scriptless, July 6, y p.m. 49th State Brewing Co. All levels welcome.

Comedy Writing Workshop, Anchorage Museum, led by Aneliese Palmer, Saturday, July 9, 1-2:30 p.m. Strengthen your funny bone. All ages welcome, no experience necessary. Improv will be a part of this. Included with admission but pre-registration required.


  • Call 550-8433 (Anchorage) or 1-888-353-5752  (statewide) during the live broadcast (2:00 – 3:00pm)
  • Send email to hometown@alaskapublic.org before, during or after the live broadcast (e-mails may be read on air)hometown@alaskapublic.org
  • Post your comment or question below (comments may be read on air)
  • LIVE BROADCAST: Wednesday, June 29, 2016, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. (Alaska time)REPEAT BROADCAST: Wednesday, June 29, 2016, 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. (Alaska time)SUBSCRIBE: Get Hometown, Alaska updates automatically — via emailRSS or podcasts.


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kmccoy (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | About Kathleen

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