contest4improv4humans Pep Talk, or The Improv Podcast, Part II

contest4improv4humansI talk about podcasting a lot. It’s kind of what I do. In fact, it’s what I’ve been doing on this blog for about a year now. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that comedian and podcaster Matt Besser of improv4humans has announced "contest4improv4humans," in which a team of three-to-four people will perform a20-minutee improv set based on a suggestion from the audience and then discuss it. Basically the format for improv4humans.

I hope no one told Matt Besser about how I think improv podcasts are the hardest to do because it’s such a visual medium! HAHAHAHAHA! So funny! I wasn’t being honest at all! Especially as I represent the Dallas Comedy House! (KC, why can’t you predict the future? And why are you talking to yourself? In written format? On a very public blog? Stop that, people might notice…)

Look, I am willing to help anybody who is willing to work in a podcast format. So after reading the rules and regulations of the podcast, I think I can provide some tips to get on the team for "contest4improv4humans," or that deep-down dream of having an improv podcast.

  1. Think of performing at a table like you would a Bat show or performing in the dark. You have to set up the scene with the who, what, and where and still be able to paint a picture for the audience. Actually, this may be more effective advice for some of you: Imagine you’re making a cartoon. We are trained as improvisers to use the stage and to be physical, but there are plenty of improv comedians who have done voice work for cartoons and have gone off-script while still in character. Go to YouTube and look up videos of Robin Williams performing as the Genie in the booth.
  2. Admittedly, this is a superficial microphone tip, which you may or may not be using for the contest. So if you’re starting a podcast, whether or not you are on the team for contest4humans, this is for you. Be aware of how close you are to the microphone and how loud you are. I am a naturally loud person, which means I have to be a certain distance from the mic. If you are a quiet person, you may want to be closer to the mic. A general rule of thumb is making the “hang 10” sign and that is the approximate distance that should be between you and your mic. Also, in terms of diction, beware of popping your “p’s,” especially if you don’t have a pop filter. It’s not fun to hear. This is why the Pop-Pop guy from Community shouldn’t have a podcast.
  3. Most important: Just because you’re sitting at a table in front of a microphone doesn’t mean you need to limit who you are as a performer. In fact, I’ve found that I’m more free in my characters behind a microphone because speaking in silly voices and bad accents is something I’m more comfortable doing with a microphone than doing live. Go big! Be brave!

Really, in the end, it’s all about having fun. If you’re going for the "contest4improv4humans," you go do it! If you just want to get a microphone and play some improv games with your friends, you can do that too. I still stand by the opinion that improv is one of the hardest formats to translate into audio. However, if you’re dedicated to improv, then I’m telling you now to get out there and prove me wrong. Get it, girl!

contest4improv4humans at the Dallas Comedy House

The Dallas Comedy House (DCH) is a participating theatre for the contest, and here's what you need to know to enter (thank you, Maggie, for the info!).

Here's how it works:

  • We can accept a max of six teams
  • Teams must have three-to-four members. There can be no overlap in members (you can only participate on ONE team)
  • Each set will be taped on February 12 at DCH
  • Our three DCH judges determine a winner and post the video for improv4humans to watch. Their panel of judges determines three “finalists” from the nation, who will record an hour-long show at DCH (fingers crossed). From those three finalists, Matt Besser determines the winner

All teams must follow this format:

  • Teams will take a suggestion, discuss it, and then perform a scene (repeat three times).
  • Groups must be seated at a table the whole time
  • Show should be 15-to-20 minutes

For additional details, email david@dallascomedhouse.com. To submit for consideration, click

To submit for consideration, click here.

KC Ryan is an improv graduate turned Sketch Writing Level 2 student. When she’s not working at the day job, she is a writer and podcaster for everything that combines feminism, comedy, theatre, and nerdery. She also performs in the puppet improv troupe Empty Inside.