This past year, Austin has had an influx of improvisers from Chicago. One of the great things they brought to town was the model of Improv Troupe Coaching. Troupe members pay a nominal fee for another improviser to run their rehearsals, watch their shows, and in general coach their team. It’s a great way for troupes to have structure and get better and it’s a great opportunity for improvisers to become stronger teachers.

I have started coaching a team of recent graduates from the Heroes School of Comedy. Though they haven’t officially selected a name yet, right now they are going by Hot Burning Shame. We get together on Monday nights, do some warmups, do some scenework, and focus on a topic for the night. Last week it was commitment. Just having me re-start their scenes and coach them to try it again with commitment had some great results.

It’s been a great experience so far coaching this team. In just a few rehearsals I have already seen them improve. I am really interested to see how it works out in the long run, to see if I’ll be able to help them create their own unique vision and style (and not just a bunch of Shana monsters running around.) It’s hard to separate things that are a good idea in general and things I like in particular.

Unfortunately, I have to take some time off from coaching them as other teaching commitments have come up, but I hope to continue to work with them in the future.

About Shana Merlin

Merlin Works is the brainchild of Shana Merlin: improviser, teacher, and performer. Since 1996, she’s been leading classes that stretch people’s imaginations, push them out of their comfort zones, and make them laugh out loud for hours at a time.

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