Every now and then I have a moment of anxiety around ‘teaching’ improv. How can you teach a bunch of people to make stuff up? Well, that isn’t what you ‘teach’. What you end up teaching is all the things people need to let go of, all the stuff that stops them, from being in the moment, and ready to make things up.
The thing that brand new improvisers find so hard to believe is that they aren’t alone and that making stuff up is a shared experience. For a few show offs this is devastating news. Their vision is of being on stage in front of the audience and saying hilarious stuff, that they are just thinking about right there and then, and the audience laughing. For those people learning how to listen and share is a real challenge. But most brand new improvisers are suddenly filled with the sweetest relief when they really learn to believe that they will be making it up together. The weight of responsibility and fear and and self-consciousness starts to lift, and there is real give and take.
So teaching improv is really only teaching people how to trust.