LAST UPDATED: November 2021
This is a list of podcasts about improv, not improvised comedy or drama shows. Listening to interviews with experienced improvisers is a great way to expand your thinking and learn new techniques. You also get insight into improv history and culture from all over the world.
The links below will take you to each podcaster’s preferred starting point. But you can also subscribe to any of these using your favourite podcast app.
Within each review I’ve linked to specific “Illusionist-Recommended” episodes about environment, object work, and physicality. (That’s our focus here at Improv Illusionist. If you’re new here and want to know what we’re about, start here.)
Producing a consistent podcast is hard, especially for independent theatre companies and solo improvisers. You may find the release schedules for these podcasts erratic.
Table of contents
- Improv Podcasts
- Improv Nerd with Jimmy Carrane
- Improv Comedy Connection with Whit Shiller
- The Backline with Rob Norman & Adam Cawley
- The Improv Chronicle with “Lloydie” James Lloyd
- The Improv Conspiracy with Broni Lisle
- Improv Touchstones (from Improv Cincinnati)
- Improv Interviews with Margot Escott
- Exploring Improv with Andy Barrett
- Second City Works presents “Getting to Yes, And…” with Kelly Leonard
- Unreviewed Improv Podcasts
- Share your favourite improv podcasts!
Learning the Improv Illusion
A free series introducing the techniques of Physical Improv.
Description: Well-known Chicago-based improv teacher Jimmy Carrane explores the creative processes used to make great comedy.
What to expect: Long-form interviews. Jimmy has worked in Chicago for decades. He knows the scene and its biggest players. This allows for deep conversations with high-profile improvisers. The oldest podcast on this list, with dozens of great interviews.
Todd Stashwick (27 September 2014)
Todd talks about how he works so much in TV, his physical approach to improv and how getting mugged in Chicago changed his life. Bonus: Jimmy and Todd improvise a brief scene and discuss the benefits of environment work.
Sexual Harassment in Improv (29 February 2016)
Excellent panel discussion on the sexual harassment issue. As relevant today as it was in 2016. (Unfortunately.) But it’s important that we keep this discussion alive.
Description: Explores how to more deeply connect with audiences and co-performers in improv, stand up, sketch, and communication through comedy. Whit Shiller is with Fishsticks Comedy in Milwaukee, WI.
What to expect: Long-form interviews. Thoughtful and satisfying conversations about improv theory and history.
Aretha Sills – SE03 EP14
Aretha is the granddaughter of Viola Spolin (widely considered the mother of modern improvisational theatre) and daughter of Paul Sills (founder and initial director of The Second City and Story Theater), and an outstanding instructor in her own right. She discusses Spolin’s experiential learning approach.
Description: Toronto-based improvisers Rob Norman and Adam Cawley discuss weekly improv-based topics based on a theme.
What to expect: Hosts-only discussion, almost no guests. Fantastic ideas for performing and producing for improvisers at all levels. Easily the most practical of the podcasts on this page.
75 – More Physical, More Fun
Demystifying physicality in improv and offering suggestions to try onstage.
55 – Five Ways to Make Object Work Fun
Problems with object work and five solutions to make your non-verbal offers dangerous, fun, and inspirational.
Want to practice your environment and object work? Check out our list of improv exercises for physical skills.
Description: Each short episode lifts the lid on an aspect of improv worth exploring and helps chronicle the growth of spontaneous discovery and creation around the world. Lloydie is based in Nottingham, England.
What to expect: Short, magazine-type episodes exploring a topic, with opinions from 3 to 4 interviewees. Broader and more accessible than a deep-cut single discussion, and I like hearing the different perspectives of international improvisers. Also has an email newsletter with notes from recent episodes and general improv news.
I’ve chatted with Lloydie twice about physicality and object work.
What Happened to Physicality in Improv? – 25 August 2020
Physicality is usually a rich topic, but how do we address it when we’re improvising online in little boxes?
Is Object Work Really Important? – 1 December 2020
Is object work just a necessary evil or is the creation and continuity of imaginary objects in scenes vital? Where does it fit in the hierarchy of improv techniques and tools?
Description: Broni is the Education Director for The Improv Conspiracy, one of Australia’s premiere improv comedy theatres. The podcast features weekly guests talking about a little corner of improv philosophy or practice that they are passionate about.
What to expect: Single-guest interviews with a focus on technique in performance and workshops. Most guests are teachers/performers at The Improv Conspiracy. As a theatre, TIC has heavy Chicago influences, so the discussion will be familiar to North American listeners. (Although I’d like to hear more about the uniquely Australian approach.) Every episode finishes with a short improvised scene.
Kaci Beeler on Intimacy & Consent in Improv – 25 October 2020
Exploring ways in which we can make the conversations around these potentially scary topics much easier on ourselves and open our work up to more possibilities.
Fiannah De Rue on Physicality – 23 May 2020
About using physicality to inform your choices and trusting what your impulses are telling you about your scene and your character.
Description: Produced by Improv Cincinnati with a rotating series of hosts and interviewers. The IC training curriculum subscribes to five universal touchstones of improv performance: Truth, Vulnerability, Playfulness, Positivity, and Presence. Delve into what makes a good improv scene with talented and famous improvisers from around the world.
What to expect: Long-form interviews with an impressive list of celebrity improvisers. Early episodes focused specifically on the interviewee’s touchstone of choice. More recently, the format has loosened up. Also includes short interviews with Improv Cincinnati students — interesting perspective from newer performers.
Director, Dramaturge, and Theater-Maker Tatiana Godfrey on Responsibility
Among many other topics, Tatiana summarizes the major elements of the Viewpoints physicality technique. Good introduction to a lesser-known subject.
Improv Trailblazer Susan Messing on Presence and Tenacity
Of many excellent interviews with favourite improv celebrities, I especially liked this one.
Description: Margot Escott is a Florida-based social worker and therapist who uses applied improv in her practice. But she’s also a huge fan of improv comedy and has interviewed dozens of well-known performers.
What to expect: Long-form interviews exploring the guest’s career in improv. Usually more historical than practical, but great for those interested in the development of the art form. Margot is especially interested in the work of Viola Spolin, and many guests have significant ties to Spolin’s work, so there’s some good insight for physical improv students.
Carol Bleackley Sills
Director of Sills/Spolin Theatre Works, theatre innovator with husband Paul Sills, and editor for Viola Spolin. She talks about the history of The Second City, Story Theatre, and more.
Description: Episodes feature improv techniques, theory, interviews, and more. Hosted by Andy Barrett, co-founder of Relentless Comedy in Springfield, MO.
What to expect: Long-form interviews. Not as slickly produced as other podcasts, but interesting material nonetheless.
Description: Second City Works is the business training arm of The Second City. Host Kelly Leonard explores how the fundamentals of the improv mindset intersect with a wide range of business topics.
What to expect: Long-form interviews with business authors, consultants, and influencers. Not really about improv, but it’s produced by The Second City, so related topics occasionally arise in conversation. If you teach improv communication skills for business, you will find interesting stuff here.
Learning the Improv Illusion
A free series introducing the techniques of Physical Improv.
Unreviewed Improv Podcasts
Here are other improv podcasts I’ve found or had referred but haven’t yet reviewed for the list above. If you know of any others, please share.
Description: Interviews with improvisers to find out what exercises and techniques they use in their improv rehearsals and classes. (Last episode posted July 2017.)
Description: New guests from the improv community with enlightening talks about improv comedy. (Last episode posted July 2017.)
Share your favourite improv podcasts!
Got a favourite that’s not on this list? Agree/Disagree with my opinions here? Please share your comments below and help us make this the most comprehensive list of improv podcasts out there!