The Religion of Improv


It’s hard for outsiders to realize how seriously improvisors take their craft. That for many, improv is their religion. I don’t mean that in some hyperbolic way. I mean the way that I see Rabbinical students speaking about Judaism (I live with one, so it’s a pretty common occurrence) I see Improvisors speak about Improv. There are 1,000’s of people who have given up having a  decent job in exchange for the ability to spend four hours a night, every night of the week, praying at the altar of the stage. Amy Poehler said, “If the stage is my church, improv is my religion.”

Here’s Poehler’s full quote:

Treat the stage with respect. Treat it with total and complete reverence. The stage is my church. There is no place that I feel more alive, more myself, more truthful, more satisfied and happy.

Some people go to church to feel in touch with that creative force that some people call God. Well, I get that on stage. I have learned more about the person I want to be and can be from the lessons I have learned in improv classes and performing in shows. That is why I am here today. So if the stage is my church, improv is my religion.

Now, two people up for a scene and just rock out with your cocks out.


Matt Walsh phrased it as “God is quite simply, the present moment”

So it’s not surprising that a couple of years back Matt Stillman wrote a series of blog posts for the Improvoker matching each of the commandments with a core tenant of improv.

Commandment 1 : I am the Lord your God

The God of improv is simply this — the present moment

Commandment 2 : You shall have no other Gods before me

So some may say that interesting choices or finding your where or establishing relationship are all critical the second commandment says before that you have to be fully there. You cant have an idol that represents your full attention and presence — you need the real thing.

Then he stopped, as by series of blog posts, I mean three posts, and then decided to turn it into a book called: A Funny Thing Happened at Mount Sinai.

As someone with a passion for both Judaism and Improv, I am not at all surprised this exists. And as someone who blogs on both Judaism and Improv, I’m glad to be able to highlight it here.

Improv, JudaismJeremy Shuback