My Current Improv Question:

[1] Can you cheat at improv?

[2] What is cheating in improv?

[3] Is it bad to cheat?

Self Appointed Answer:


No you can’t cheat, because there are no rules.
But….you can make questionable choices…


 Merriam-Webster Definition:

a) to break a rule or law usually to gain an advantage at something

b) to influence or lead by deceit, trick, or artifice

 Urban Dictionary Definition:

a) enhance one’s abilities in game play such as unlimited ammunition, enhanced or normally unavailable weapons

b) unlock otherwise unavailable levels of play

c) to win at all costs

d) all the sexual things you could possibly think of cause it’s Urban Dictionary and that’s what they do

Self Appointed Definition:

a) to use stock characters that you’ve used before

b) to do something in which you know you will get a laugh

c) i have absolutely no clue


I honestly don’t think it’s bad to cheat in improv.
There are no rules right?
I shouldn’t feel bad for doing a British accent or Valley Girl accent.
They are just tools I use in improv.

The questionable area is when I have a specific character for that British voice.

For example,
if I am always proper and talk about love when I do a British accent,
then that could be considered a cheat.
I’m allowing previous information to build and reusing it over and over.

The Red & Black has a great article about cheating.
The thing that caught my eye was “moral rationality.”
Basically this means that if a lot of other people are getting away with cheating,
then it shouldn’t be such a big deal if you cheat.
You’re rationally shifting morals so that they suit your needs.

And what need is big enough to shift around rules?

A good grade.
A job.
A certificate.
Basically any end goal if the person is passionate about it.

People focus on the end result all the time.
We’re constantly bombarded with articles
about how focusing on the end result is bad or not healthy.
Yet there’s something so wonderful
when you get to the end.
End results are a heady addiction.

What does this have to do with improv?
Well it’s all about results [aka grades] right?
We’re driven to be funny, talented, amazing,
because if we aren’t we might lose audience members
which would result to smaller shows
which might result in canceling shows
which might result in not performing for a long time.

So we do what we have to do to survive.


While cheating is fine on some levels, it doesn’t allow you to find more comedic and more creative expressions.  You’re basically telling an old joke over and over again until you can think of something better.

You are that co-worker who grates on everyone’s nerves.

That is honestly the only downfall I’ve witnessed: the calcification of creativity.


Do what you have to do to survive, but know that if you cheat, you’re only cheating yourself*

*quote from every teacher, ever.