Being a Supportive Improviser

Improv is a collaborative art form, and we know from decades of experience that the best improv happens when everybody involved feels comfortable, supported, and welcomed. At Merlin Works, we practice this every day by keeping our classrooms free from harassment, discrimination, and bigotry. People of any age, race, ability, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation are welcome in our classrooms and our performances. All Merlin Works students and instructors need to abide by these six guidelines:


  • Strive to be fun to play with, and make choices that include the group. Be aware when you’ve excluded someone, acknowledge it, and learn from it.
  • Respect physical boundaries. We all just met each other, and people have different needs for personal space.
  • When you play a character that’s different from you, play them with smarts, respect, and depth. Cultures and identities aren’t jokes. Even if it gets a laugh, it’s what we call a “cheap laugh.” We can do better. Use modern language instead of outdated or offensive terms.
  • Help to support women and make them comfortable. Make an extra effort to avoid belittling women, even if you’re “in character.”
  • Don’t demean or make a joke out of any gender identity or sexual orientation. Anyone can play any character. Men and women can play women, or men, or pirates or robots or boxes of cereal.
  • Be personally respectful. Don’t make unwanted sexual advances toward another student or instructor, and make it a goal to avoid making others uncomfortable.

These guidelines apply both inside and outside of class, and also apply to online interactions.

Our instructors will do their very best to steer you in a positive direction. If you make a mistake, that means you have the chance to get better! It’s why we’re in class to begin with.

If you feel like another student is violating these guidelines, or if you feel uncomfortable for any other reason, let your instructor know. If you feel like your instructor is violating these guidelines, notify Paul Normandin ( or Shana Merlin ( We’ll review any reports immediately, and your complaint will be kept absolutely private.

Thanks for taking the time to read this! It’s extremely important to us. Let us know if you have questions or concerns about this policy.

About Kevin

Kevin Miller is the Dean of the Merlin Works Institute for Improvisation. He has performed, coached, and taught improv in Austin, Texas for over 15 years.
Replies: 2


  1. Mollie Kirby said:

    Everyone should abide these rules in all areas of life!

  2. Raychel Riney said:

    Good rules to create and maintain a safe space.

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