What It's Like At An Improv Audition

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Let me tell you a little bit about what an improv audition is like. I happened to have one yesterday at Second City. And thanks to all of the awesome comments you left on this post, I went in there feeling confident and relaxed. I wasn't necessarily confident I was going to nail it, I was confident I was going to have fun and just be excited I'm in a place where I get to do what I do. I may bitch about comedy a lot, but that's only because I love it so much.

Right when I got there I saw a lot of faces I recognized. I wasn't sure if I actually knew them, or just knew them from watching them perform somewhere, or was it just from Facebook? I had no idea. The improv world is a small world. You'll cross paths with everyone at least twice. And if you're single you'll probably cross more than paths... (That's according to my young single gal pals) Says the old engaged lady.

Anyway, there's two types of improv people- the loud ones who seem to be best friends with everyone and take it upon themselves to intimate a game of Zip, Zap, Zop. And then there's the quiet ones who seek out a safe corner to silently access the situation. I fall into the latter.

When it's time to start the audition you're brought on stage all at once. The lights are pretty bright, but if you look hard enough you can see the eyes of the people sitting in the audience who hold your future in their notebooks.

We say our names and are told to say "something interesting" about ourself. This first part is crucial. You don't want to try to say something funny, they can smell that a mile away. But you are in a comedy audition, so you have to be a little funny. But not too funny. But funny. But shit did I already ruin this audition before it even started?!? And that's a little glimpse inside my head at auditions.

After the intros, it's quick two person scenes. When your name is called you step out and one other person who wants to join you steps out as well. Then you start. You jump into a scene about whatever you want. And then you have about thirty seconds to apply every tool you've ever learned about improv to show your chops.

Listen. Yes and. Be real. Be honest.  Do scene work. Don't be a talking head. Make it count. Show emotion. Say a name. State a relationship. Don't say too much. Don't say too little. Be a good actor. But don't act too much. Be a good scene partner. Don't deny. Play smart. Put down the broom. AND GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD.

About halfway through doing a scene in front of a stage full of talented people, where I get tongue tied and don't always have the best responses, I ask myself why I didn't just get into good old fashioned acting. You know, so I could have auditions with scripts. Wouldn't that be a lot easier? Yes, yes it would. But here I am in a scene trying to tell my husband I'm scared to have our twin baby girls because I think one is going to eat the other. Girls can be very nasty in the womb, I've heard. Carry on.

We then go on to do longer two person scenes and the time on stage while all eyes are on you can feel like a second or two hours. It's all an illusion. Time isn't real on stage.

When it's all said and done I have my usual post audition feeling. I wouldn't say it's a good feeling per say. It's more like a why didn't I do what I planned/hoped/prayed I would do kind of feeling.

This video might better sum up how I was feeling yesterday immediately after.

And that's what it's like to go through an improv audition. I'm going to be fine. We all are.

If you're a talent agent, please sign me.

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  1. Despite stress and everything, that actually sounds like fun. I was a theatre major for awhile in college, until I quit to study creative writing (I'm still trying to decide if that was wise), but the Improv group was fun, and they put on the best shows.

  2. the last 22 seconds of this video...priceless

  3. That sounds utterly terrifying. No idea how you do it..so impressed!

  4. You are so brave, I would be terrified! I'm sure you did fabulous!

  5. It's too bad you aren't funny ;) Can't wait to hear the great news that comes of this audition!!

  6. junk food & the music = priceless. if it means anything at all, I think you're funny. & if I was an agent I'd sign you. butttt... only a SAHM here, so just keep doing what you do & I'll keep laughing behind the laptop monitor. ;)

  7. HAHA you are too funny! That video was hilarious!


  8. Awesome! I love reading about your improve & comedy journey. I live vicariously through you. :]

  9. Taylor, you always talk about being so introverted in the comedy world. I have to say, on your blog, you come off as extroverted. Like I want to be your friend, and you're hilarious. I hope you're actually being yourself when you go to these things - you seem awesome! Stop "hiding in the corner" !

  10. when i was watching the SNL 40th anniversary I thought of you. And you should think of Jim Carey since they didn't take him. OR maybe you did better than you think. I still think putting yourself out there is the best thing you can do, and you do it more than most.

  11. I could never do that, but I have so much respect for people who can!

    I'm sure it went great!

  12. I got nervous just reading this. I know I don't really know you but I would never assume you'd be the stand in the corner type from reading your blog. But then again, I'd also hope you wouldn't be one of those super loud, where is the spotlight types. I picture you as the cool and collected Kristen Wiig type, not that I've met her either. Now if only we could figure out a way to get those brilliant lines to come in the moment and not when we are replaying the scene in our heads the five minutes after it ends.

  13. I have auditioned a few times for the graduate improv group at Northwestern, but never passed the test. I am still a fan of watching them, and go regularly to their open practices.

    Oh, and one more thing:

  14. Listen I give you sooo much props for putting yourself out there. It cant be easy at all. I love reading about the comedy world on your blog and hope to see you do big things!