Can’t Delegate Motivation

Can’t Delegate Motivation

On occasion, you may find yourself imbued with the gift of motivation. Whether you’re riding the waves of a phenomenal show or you’re jazzed because you developed an idea to transform the improv landscape, the power of motivation seems contagious.

It’s not contagious.

But, Hitler!

A charismatic leader can motivate others to work, but there has to be some level of personal investment, compensation, or peer pressure, or mandatory orders to maintain this.

Typically, a small improv posse has none of these—at least not when it comes to this new grand idea that you want to achieve. Starting a new plan by immediately delegating duties is not the way to get the people to invest.

So how do you make your idea work?

Do It Yourself

I’m not talking about doing a one-person show. However, if you have received the beautiful impulse to act, then act!

Set up everything to make it as easy as possible for your fellow players to come take part. People don’t want to be given extra stress or work without some sort of compensation. Unless you plan on giving gifts (money is a good one) to your players, you cannot expect them to be nearly as motivated to do the work.

You’re the one with the dream, make it happen. The easier you can make it for your players, the more willing they are to buy into your idea and help.

Reevaluating Buy-in

Recognize that buy-in from your players starts at being willing to play in your show. I know, “They should be so lucky to be given this opportunity to perform in MY GENIUS SHOW!” I’ve had that thought before and it is absolutely misguided.

Recognize that the willingness to participate in your show is a willingness to risk failure in an unproven product. It’s like investing in a business idea from your friend, except instead of risking money, they’re risking humiliation and the horrible feelings that accompany a bad show.

Frankly, a player who is willing to play for free in an unproven show (whether it’s a new format or even a new location) is a godsend and should be appreciated as such. Anything beyond that—such as scouting locations, providing emcee duties, or managing people—is icing on the cake.

Elements That Are Your Responsibility

You’re motivated to make this idea happen, right? Use that to make sure these elements are taken care of:


  • Scheduling


      • Players: Make sure the players involved are available and committed to the performance. Recognize that there may be a dropout or two and plan accordingly.
      • Location: The location also needs to be committed to the performance. If you’re communicating with a manager or an owner who isn’t going to be at the location on the day/night of the performance, make sure to check in with the staff or manager on duty. I prefer to arrive at the venue early to get acquainted with the people working that evening, and to help set up if necessary.
      • Practices: Practices should be adjusted to accommodate as many of the players as possible. Even if the performance is fairly straightforward, chemistry between players can elevate it beyond a showcase of individual talents.
    • Tech/Props: Make sure all tech needs are taken care of and handled properly. If you’re borrowing any equipment, you’re in charge of making sure that it stays in good condition and returns to its owner.


  • Understanding the Venue


    • Acoustics: If you don’t have the proper equipment, recognize that you’ll have to project more to reach the entire audience. If you’re not heard, you’re not going to get the laughs/cries/gasps you want.
    • Audience: Checking in with the owner/manager/staff can help you know if your show is suitable for the general audience of that venue. You don’t want to be stripping naked and shouting obscenities in front of children, nor would you want to be making extremely esoteric and complicated statements in front of a crowd of people drinking and looking for a good time.
    • Theme of the Venue: The theme ties in closely with the audience. If you’re doing improv amidst an entire show of musical acts, recognize that and try to adjust your show to adapt to the atmosphere (if playing short-form, throw in a few musical games to defer to the theme of the evening).
  • Responsibility: You take responsibility for the show. Good or bad, it’s on you.


If you have motivation, honor it and take action.