The Improv-Hockey Analogy

Jan 09, 2010 02:03 am by b.j.swank in Improv

Improv is like Hockey. In the way that it’s like hockey, it’s also like basketball and soccer, so you can think of it in those terms too.

Funniness is offense

Offense is the most accessible part of organised sport; everyone loves a goal, a home-run, a slam-dunk. Offense in improv is funniness–it makes the audience cheer and swoon, and it attracts newcomers with its glamour.

From Rocket Richard to Alex Ovechkin, the truly offensively gifted are naturally talented. While experience and training will hone the naturally gifted person’s skills, no amount of study and practice will turn journeyman players into superstars.

Story is defense

Connoisseurs value the defensive game, and see the artistry in the goaltender’s dual, the pitcher’s dual, the perfect game. Defense in improv is story–it gives fundamental structure to the game plan.

Defensemen take longer to make it to the major leagues than forwards, because they need to gain a lot of experience to be good at defense. Storytelling requires talent, sure, but it take years of proper coaching and experience for everything to come together.

Defense wins championships.

Transition game

In hockey, offense begins with the transition game from defense. In other words, how the defensemen are able to get the puck up to the forwards is crucial in building a successful attack. Improv is the same–funniness flows from story.

It stands to reason that if your story is falling apart, then you are lost in your own zone without a hope of getting the puck up ice for a laugh.

What position?

Are you a winger–a natural goal-scorer who delivers the buzzer-beating laughs?
Are you a centre–a play-maker, a team leader in assists who sets up all those zingers for the wingers to tap in?
Are you a defensemen–a behind-the-play architect who sets up interesting platforms and moves the story forward?

Your team

Your team needs wingers, centres and defensemen. If you are building a new cast, or looking to add a member to your team, look at where your team needs help.

Coaches love a forward who back-checks to help our the defense, and a defenseman who can join the rush on offense. Nothing obliges you to be a one-dimensional player. In fact, on some nights, you may be called to play out of position in order to help the team.

Please click through to the blog to comment if you are reading this on Facebook.



  • By vinnyfrancois, January 9, 2010 @ 4:10 am


    Can I suggest the goalie is the group of people offstage? They’re ready to come in and make a save when the forwards and defense have had a lapse. They can jump on and with a single suggestion push the story back up to the defense or even go for broke with a long pass to funny standing alone by the opposition blue line (risky and low-percentage but sometimes pays off).

    A good goalie watches the play, sees it develop, can read where it’s going and puts him/herself in a position to best help out the team. It takes confidence to jump up when the moment arrives but you also need to be judicious or you might find yourself totally out of position where you’re not needed.

    (This can also apply to a director if there’s no side team.)

  • By b.j.swank, January 12, 2010 @ 2:55 pm

    Thanks. The only problem with the goalie add-on, is that you can’t then say “I’m a goalie” or, “tonight, I was playing goalie” or “our teams needs a goalie”.

    I’ve been thinking about this analogy for a while, and after shows, I will think about what position I played.

  • By Selfie Stick with Bluetooth Remote, June 11, 2015 @ 6:02 am

    Both the iPhone 4s and the Galaxy Note 2 are getting old and it’s time to dump both of them. My contract is up and it’s time to get a sleek, modern phone. The iPhone 6 Plus ticks all the boxes on my wish list, so that’s what I will be getting soon.

Other Links to this Post

  1. Wait, Where Did the Semester Go? | Stage Right: All Night, Every Night — December 10, 2012 @ 12:21 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

WordPress Themes