The best improv advice I ever received was around the time I was taking 201. It wasn’t from an improviser. It was from my former boss at Myspace, Manu Rekhi, who was mentoring me on my career and life in general.
He said, “If someone asks you for a favor, do it. If it’s at all possible, do it.” His point was that when you’re a good person, people respond to that. People will treat you better and you surround yourself with a higher quality of person without any effort at all. This makes you happier, more fulfilled and closer to succeeding at just about anything in life. Because you build a kind of karma and you foster a community.
Beginning in 201, I started doing that. If someone wanted to throw a party, I helped out. If someone invited me to a show, I went. If someone invited me to a practice group, I joined. If someone looked down and out, I asked what was wrong. I did this selfishly at first, then instinctively later.
It’s almost a year later and I have the best friends I could hope for. And not only that, I’m surrounded by amazing, talented people, who push me to be the best version of myself. When I’m doing a set with one of these people and I see them crushing, I just think, “Well, fuck, I gotta keep up with that guy” and I push myself to be faster, to listen harder, to commit.
So the best improv advice I could give?
Be generous, honest and specific with your compliments.
Go to your friends’ shows.
Say hi after shows, go to bars, leave a complimentary Facebook wall post, exchange phone numbers, follow each others’ Twitter and retweet and #FF, like each others’ team pages, watch each others’ sketches. Connect with each other.
Foster a community.
And if someone asks you for a favor, if at all possible, do it.
Your personal life and your improv life are inextricably intertwined. Be a better person; be a better improviser. It’s all the same thing.