Craig Cackowski and Improv



Katy has been a member of the Maydays for 12 years. She met LA’s Craig Cackowski (2nd from left) at the OOB comedy and improv Festival in Austin, Texas playing in an Armando show in 2015. She took an improv class with him then and has been enjoying his insights ever since. At the beginning of December, Katy did a 4-day intensive with Craig at the Free Association. Below, Katy shares some of her favourite of Craig’s improv teachings.


Have fun and make a choice – it’s the minimum required

When you have had more than a handful of improv lessons, you realise that there is so much to learn and it can take away from the fun of your work. If you really get in your head, just have fun and make a choice.


Why should we care?

Give the audience a reason to invest in your characters and your story. What is happening to those characters, what do they feel and can people empathise with them?


Choose to know

As well as agreeing with the reality you’re in (yes, and) it’s great to build the scene quickly. By choosing to know rather than not know about the scenario we can get the scene going much more quickly. To quote Bill Arnett: ‘Once the pieces are set up, we can play.’


Be efficient with your language

Knowing creates an efficiency of language. We avoid a lot of questions without specifics and detail and instead build up the picture we want to see. A scene where people know also comes out a bit more like a polished theatre piece with silences and action where we might find them in real life.


Names are a great gift

Rather than using the same go-to names you use all the time, try and use names that can inspire the other player. Atticus gives you more to play with than Dave.


Endow your scene partner with adjectives

To give your partner even more information, it’s a gift to tell them what their character is like. Perhaps you’ve already noticed them playing that way, or perhaps you’re gifting it to them. ‘Uh, here’s whiney Terrence again’ is a great endowment.


Craig is a teacher at iO West. He performs in Orange Tuxedo with his wife, Carla Cackowski and in Dasariski (which is amazing). You can also see him as a regular in Drunk History and Community and on the Thrilling Adventure Hour podcast. I mean, he’s in loads of stuff…