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  • Writer's pictureTerry Withers

Best Improv Videos!

Updated: 3 days ago

Sometimes students ask me what are the best improv videos to watch of long form improv comedy being performed. Now of course, “good” is going to be in the eye of the beholder and both taste and pedagogy may substantially impact what I or any other person thinks. That said, here is the definitive list of the best improv videos on all of the internet!

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The Best Improv Videos

THE DEFINITIVE BEST IMPROV VIDEOS LIST


Presented in no particular order, but numbered anyway to help with navigation.


NUMBER ONE: NYComedy Improv Videos


The number one best improv video (please don't take that part of my sentence seriously) comes from 2014, starring Zach Woods and Neil Casey in a duo, 25 minute set performed for UCB’s famous weekly show, Cage Match. The suggestion was “microphone”.  


Upon hearing the suggestion Neil sits quickly and begins trying to form and then speak a word into what anyone watching would assume is a microphone. Zach watches patiently until more than half a minute goes by. Finally he remarks, “I don’t think we’re going to be able to use you at NPR.”


The set only gets funnier and smarter from there.  Check it out below!



This video is part of the somewhat famous (in improv circles) YouTube Channel, NYComedy. Many sets on this channel are great, but I’ll only be listing one on this list so that it doesn’t get too repetitive or feel too lopsided. That said, there are a few other videos from this channel you might want to check out:


Bucky’s famous set in which only one performer speaks for an entire 25 minute set: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFAU3tzYGKQ


Fuck That Shit’s set that opens with 5 minutes of dancing to Uptown Girl:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PxgHq-2dos - (Full disclosure, I’m on this team and so I’m biased, but my bias didn’t affect me when I made the decision to include this set because I thought about it really long and hard and decided that since this was my team, I better include the video.)


Rumpleteaser’s 2017 CageMatch FINALS Winning set: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8M2cYpgoug - This one is musical improv which makes it especially fun and impressive, I would definitely check it out.


NUMBER TWO: Master Improvisers TJ & DAVE


Perhaps no duo, group or individual improv performers are more revered than TJ & Dave.  A number of videos of their work can be found here (https://vimeo.com/ondemand/tjanddave). But there is a paywall at the link that I have never scaled.  


Nonetheless, having seen them live a number of times, I am quite certain you won’t feel cheated whatever the price.  


And here is one of my favorite online improv videos brought to us by TJ & Dave. The first 10 minutes of a set they did overseas:


Much like the start of Neil & Zach’s set, it begins patiently with a focus on connection over comedy. There might be a lesson there for all of us in that!


NUMBER THREE: The Best Of Whose Line Is It Anyway?


While improv remains frustratingly esoteric in our culture (people still think improv is stand up thanks to the very popular chain of stand up clubs inexplicably named The Improv) you would have to have been living under a rock not to have seen or at least heard of Whose Line Is It Anyway? So of course I wanted to include one of their videos. At the same time I’ve been somewhat overwhelmed by how many videos I’d need to go through in order to find the one I would share here.


That’s why I was thrilled to find that the Whose Line team already did the work for me by curating a 40 minute video themselves named: “The Best of Whose Line Is It Anyway?”. I mean if they say this is their best, who am I to argue? Enjoy:


Other honorable mention vids from the Whose Line Is It Anyway? include:


Wayne Brady playing “Song Styles” in which he somehow manages to organically rhyme Stradivarius among many other hysterical moments: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcY6hWJcky8


26 minutes of “Scenes From A Hat”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jv0jFiFsq2A


A video focused on Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles, which, you know, how could you go wrong? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CV4GISzIIDw


NUMBER FOUR: ASSSSCAT


The signature show at the UCB Theatre is ASSSSCAT, a wild, rollicking injection of improv often featuring famous people. Years ago a 45 minute set was recorded with lots of famous people in it.  Check it out here:


This less popular video shares a more natural ASSSSCAT performance on a normal UCB style stage. It promises a clean version of ASSSSCAT. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether it delivers on that promise or not!


And here are the scenes they removed to make the aforementioned promise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcJPBM_ioq8


Of course all things evolve and ASSSSCAT is no different. Following Covid it seems to have evolved into Raaaatscrapes. Here is a fun scene:

And here is a second:

If you liked those be sure to check out their site here:

Pro Tip: I believe you can purchase whole shows to stream online on The Raaaatscrapes.


I’m going to add this video of Chris Gethard and Matt Walsh talking early UCB Theatre history, even though it isn’t ASSSSCAT improv, it feels related:


NUMBER FIVE: Famous People Improvising


Taking center stage is the House of Lies cast performing live long form improv! I don’t know the story about how this show was made, but my intuition tells me that Ben Schwartz, of UCBNY fame, is primarily responsible. If you ever wanted to see the super hero War Machine create make 'em ups, this is for you:


Of course Middleditch and Schwartz’s live improv sets on Netflix is largely responsible for making me think Ben is responsible for the House of Lies set. See for yourself here (you will need a Netflix subscription):

These sets are so funny, if you don’t have a subscription I’d say go ahead and get one just to watch the three long form sets at the above link.


(EASTER EGG CHALLENGE: I have a memory of there being another live improv show from a cast (Undercovers) that Ben was in. I can’t find it though. If anyone can and you notify me about it, you win the EASTER EGG CHALLENGE!)


And since we’re on Netflix produced improv content, I would be remiss not to mention MURDERVILLE, which sees celebrities forced to improvise without much guidance while Will Arnett sort of puts them in one tough situation after the next. I’m a big fan (of course) of any shows that feature a character named Terry, so it is easy to guess how these videos made the cut:


Quite similar to MURDERVILLE (in that one cast member knows what is happening while the other is fully improvising) RA’s own project, Comedy Karaoke, filmed this scene, supposedly cut out of the movie Rocky II:


NUMBER SIX: Improv Podcasts Filmed!


No list of best improv videos would be complete without including Improv4Humans. Matt Besser’s prolific project seeking to turn live improv into a type of modern day radio play has been going strong for at least a decade. Here is one of my favorites (that happens to be part of an Earwolf playlist of 12 videos you can watch):


Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes & Will Arnett are challenging Besser for the role of KIng of Improv Podcasts with their newer (but still kinda long running) improvised podcast SmartLess. Okay so their videos have just a static screen and no actual video footage, but it’s still on YouTube! That’s a video, Baby! Check out this recent episode with Larry David:


Finally, Jimmy Carrane has a great improv podcast called Improv Nerd that you can listen to and learn more about here:

True, those are podcasts and not videos. Hmmm this section of my blog, while still chock full of great improv content, is still a little weak given the unifying theme of videos… Okay here are some of Jimmy’s improv conversations on video that are not podcasts but feel similar, and like I already said, are videos:


NUMBER SEVEN: Thoughts on improv


Nearly as ubiquitous as videos of people doing improv are videos of people talking about doing improv. Here are some of the best!


No one speaks about improv in a simpler clearer way than Tina Fey in this short clip of an interview she did with Google’s former CEO Eric Schmidt:

And here she is again discussing improv with David Letterman, this time even more briefly:

Since they are often associated with each other (I’m not sure why, maybe because of the movie Sisters?), here are some of Amy Poehler’s thoughts on long form improv:


What about other famous People? Don’t they have guru like thoughts on improv?  You bet!


Keegan Michael Key:

Jason Sudeikis:

Micaela Watkins:

Matt Walsh:

Zach Woods:

Chris Gethard:


NUMBER SEVEN: Vids from the fabled IO Theatre


When I was a young improv student I thought the coolest improv book was Art By Committee. It came with a dvd with some sample sets and some of this Beer, Shark, Mice set was on it. Enjoy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JiM9-PcJrU


And here are some famous comedians talking about The HArold interspersed between clips from the same set: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiXazjCTdXw


And that's it! That's the blog post.


I will say, I wish I had some more great vids from IO and any from Second City or other prominent theaters. I cut my improv teeth over at UCB so my suggestions on content are often UCB heavy. If anyone has any suggestions for vids that should be included, please reach out!

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3件のコメント


Evan Evans
Evan Evans
5月07日

Ugh, again with homework! Forget about an apple! I’ll cut the core education out and you'll get all the worms directly.


いいね!

Terrence Withers
Terrence Withers
5月07日

I love vids! Vids are worth 1000 words.

いいね!
Evan Evans
Evan Evans
5月08日
返信先

Yes, and these words are moving.

いいね!
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