How to Audition for Improv

So you're going to audition for an improv troupe or show or theater and you're wondering how the hell it works. I post unto you, in chronological order, my approach based on 17 years of sitting on both sides of the table. Take it or leave it, this is my advice:

BEFORE YOU GET ON STAGE:

1. Treat it like a job interview (because it is one).

2. The audition begins when you walk in the door.

3. Come early to warm up so you can get to know your audition partners, pee, smoke or whatever you need to do to be ready. 

    3a. Don't come drunk or high.

4. Be prepared/know what you're auditioning for. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

5. Bring a headshot and resume.

    5a. If you don't have a professional headshot, get one, but until then bring in a quality photo of yourself. (Don't bring a print out, a hilarious photo from that one time, or a photo with you and someone else in it. No, not even if they're someone famous.)

    5b. A performance resume - I don't need to know how long you worked at BusiNet. Always include education.

    5c. Don't lie on your resume and don't worry about how long it is. My first resume was 2 class shows and a play I did in High School. We all start somewhere. You are at the point in your career that you are at. Don’t spend a second fretting about where you’re not. Enjoy the journey.

6. Dress for the job you want. That usually means "show clothes.” Comfortable business attire. Ties - yes. Suit coats - no. Look professional. Don't dress funny or casual or slutty. Boobs are nice. They will never be the reason you get the job. 

7. Be polite. It's never failed.

    7a. Don't be the d**khead who tries to psyche everyone out. I hate that guy. That guy's mom hates him too.

8. Don't be overly friendly with the auditioners. If you know them, even if they're family, keep it to a 'hello.' They know if they know you, stay away from suckuppery. Everyone can see that for what it is and it can make the whole room uncomfortable.

ONCE YOU'RE ON STAGE:

9. Take a deep breath

10. Have Fun

11. Be confident. Failing that - perform confidence.

12. Save the comedy for the scenes - if you're asked to say your name, just say it, be a person first, and then a performer. If you're asked to be real, please be real. 

13. Make an impression. Do what you do best. Make others look good, support, give and take and listen. Stage hogs and doormats will both be left behind. 

    13a If someone messes up on stage, don’t ever make a stink-face from the backline to show that you caught their gaffe.Doubly so, if you are in the scene. Your audition ends the moment you do.

14. Be bold. 

    14a That doesn't mean violent or offensive. 

    14b If your partner does something regrettable, do your best to roll with it. The auditioners know when your partner has put you at a disadvantage, and will take that into account.

15. Give it everything you've got and when it's over leave it all behind.

16. Remember that the auditioners want you to succeed. We're looking for talent. Believe me, we're pulling for you. We'd much rather cut good people, than cast mediocre.

AFTERWARDS

17. Remember to breathe.

18. Be polite.

19. Don’t hang out at the venue, get your stuff and let the next group have their space.

20. If you can, grab a drink with your audition group and all of the others. Cheer each other on as newcomers arrive from their audition 

21. If you don't get a callback, it's OK. There's always next time. Some of the best improvisers I've ever known, got shut out the first few times. 

I hope that helps. 

Now kick ass and break legs!

-Pj

For further advice have a listen to this episode of the Got Your Back podcast that Vince Sabatini sent my way.

Posted on March 6, 2015 .