improv for diverse humans
October 28, 2017 2:10 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking to improve my taste in improv. Please recommend me some good improv shows, groups, or podcasts, preferably led by underrepresented minorities! (e.g. women, queer people, trans people, and people of color)

I've been doing improv for a few months and would like to hone my taste. I'm reading books like Truth in Comedy but would like to also experience high-quality improv. I live in a city in the US that, while not being a hub of improv, does have some great local theaters, one of which I'm taking classes at—MeMail me for specifics.

As a member of an underrepresented minority myself (I haven't met or heard of any improvisers with my race/gender combo), I would like to support other members of URMs. But if a particular group or set is canonically or transcendentally great, go ahead and recommend it anyway.

In terms of comedy, my tastes tend toward the postmodern, sci-fi, and queer (I'm a fan of ""weird Twitter""). For example, I listened to some of the episodes of "Improv for Humans" that starred Wild Horses. There were some fantastic moments, but on the whole the episodes were overly gross and sexual and weren't to my taste. Same for AS+CAT: loved the sections by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, but the male performers often tipped over into haha-only-serious sexism. Also, I know one of the occupational hazards of improv is the "lol so random" part but I'm not a huge fan of that.

I'd prefer specific episode recommendations, or DVD/show recommendations, over general group/podcast/people recommendations. I don't have a Netflix or Spotify subscription but am willing to support performers by paying on Amazon, iTunes, Patreon, and so on.
posted by icosahedron to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
This season of Canadaland's The Imposter! Start with the episode Aliya Tries Comedy. The Imposter is typically about Canadian arts & culture, but this season focuses on comedy. The host, Aliya Pabani, is going to spend the season learning improv & documenting it—then at the end of the season she'll do her first live comedy set on stage, whether or not she's ready.

Pabani is an opinionated, funny woman of colour with a sharp awareness of social justice stuff. The first episode sets the tone—she challenges her improv teacher on assumptions about what's funny and phones up her dad to talk about brownface in Indian movies.
posted by fire, water, earth, air at 4:38 PM on October 28, 2017

Improv group in Minneapolis: Blackout Improv
posted by buttonedup at 7:44 PM on October 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

If there's one podcast I'd recommend for anybody interested in improv, it's Comedy Bang Bang. It's introduced me to a lot of amazingly talented people, who I've then followed to their own podcasts. Be warned, though: the direction it goes in depends very much on the guest. With some guests, it can be very gross or sexual.

POC who are regularly featured on the show include Carl Tart, Tawny Newsome, and Zeke Nicholson. Frequent guests James Adomian and Cameron Esposito are LGBTQ.

Specific episodes: This one features both Nicholson and Tart. This episode features Newsome and Esposito plus Esposito's wife Rhea Butcher. And here's a recent one with Adomian.

I can't promise those episodes won't contain any content you find objectionable -- but the cast is absolutely brilliant.
posted by yankeefog at 1:57 AM on October 29, 2017

Spontaneanation is "pure" improv but it is hosted by a white man. He's one of the best, but still. He does have several non-white performers he brings on - it's a different group each time. I don't think there are any bad episodes, but if I had to pick one it would be Savannah, Georgia.
posted by O9scar at 12:30 PM on October 29, 2017

Oh, and my other favorite improv podcast is Off Book: The Improvised Musical Podcast. You might start with Episode 14 ("Straight To Bradway") which gueststars gay rights activist-slash-Tony-nominated megatalent Rory O'Malley.
posted by yankeefog at 8:13 AM on October 31, 2017

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