What’s it all for?

End of June already! This year is flying by. I hope you’re safe and well where you are.

Along with the latest update below, I’ve been sharing community links on Facebook and Twitter. Use those links if you want to follow me there.

What is Physical Improv for?

Please allow me to clarify something about physical improv skills.

I’ve been promoting environment, object work, and physicality pretty hard over the past few years. I believe these skills are essential to improv because, no matter how verbal or cerebral you are, eventually your characters have to DO things.

When you have to show a location or activity in a scene, it makes sense to do this as skilfully as possible. This avoids confusion with your fellow players and helps keep the audience immersed in the show. Leveling up your physical skills gives you these benefits and a lot more.

However, “casual” improvisers often pass by this work, worrying that their object and environment skills have to fit some standard. They don’t want to go deep into mime & movement training. They just want to get up on stage and tell stories.

And that’s okay. You don’t have to train with a European clown master to get better at object and environment work. You don’t have to change anything about your improv approach, either.

With Improv Illusionist, I’m sharing simple techniques that make your physical choices more expressive, so that when your characters DO things, people around you can “read” you better. Practicing these skills and cleaning up bad habits makes you a more well-rounded improviser. Which only improves everything you do, physical or not.

In fact, I try to make it very clear that physical improv is not about objects, activities, or locations in the first place. Read my article on Improv “Rules” for Environment Work if you want to know more.

What’s your opinion about this? Are better physical skills out of reach of the casual improviser? I’d love to know your thoughts. Please reply and share!

More for the Improv Illusionist

Emotional Safety Resources
I recently added some new information about boundaries and check-in procedures from Lucy Fennell. (More from Lucy in the News and Links section below.)

Improv Exercises for Physical Skills

Improv Books — Reviews & Recommendations

Improv Podcasts — Reviews & Recommendations

Documentary on Manhattan native, improv pioneer Del Close premiering this summer
Whatever your opinion of the man, this should be interesting viewing for improv and comedy fans.

When Improv Means Business
Improv for Business Instructors: some great ideas in this podcast from Improv Chronicle for selling the benefits to clients.

Safe Space?
(UPDATE: This link is no longer active.)
What does it mean for an improv rehearsal or workshop to be a “safe space?” Lucy Fennell discusses the origins of the term, how it can be applied, and if there might be a better alternative. (I also added a couple of Lucy’s resources to the Emotional Safety Resources page – link in the section above.)

Question(s) of the Month

What improv skill (physical or not) do you think you need to work on most?

Hit Reply and share. I love to chat with readers, and it gives me ideas for future content to help the whole community.


Thanks for reading. I hope you’re finding these newsletters interesting.

If not, I’d love to hear your feedback. Contact me through the website or just reply to this email. I read and respond to everything.

Back again on July 29th.

Ex nihilo!

David Raitt - Headshot

Hi, I'm David Raitt. I've been performing and teaching improv and sketch comedy for over 25 years.
MY MISSION: To help improvisers everywhere (re-)learn the power of environment, object work, and physicality in character and performance.

Learning the Improv Illusion

A free series introducing the techniques of Physical Improv.