Image Source: Joshua Sukoff

It was much easier than I thought…

The constant slog to produce new content and entertain the masses is both a privilege and a responsibility. Any writer or artist worth their salt will tell you that every adoring fan is like a stone dropped in your pocket. While you can use those stones to throw at other people and harm your enemies, eventually the weight starts to pull your pants down and you wonder if it’s all worth it.

I’ll admit, I’ve neglected my audience on Medium, having not published in more than a year. …


How space work brings your scene to life

There are lots of good reasons to emulate Mary Poppins. Who doesn’t want to float away with a flying umbrella? Flirt with a chimney sweep? Walk in and out of children’s lives and gaslight them in ways that will permanently damage their ability to discern reality and fantasy?

But beyond all these rewards, acting like Mary Poppins can also benefit your improv scenes. And you don’t have to tap dance or sing beautifully or turn the world into an animated, anthropomorphized wonderland. All you have to do is live in your environment.

Don’t Be a Talking Head

When performing improv, we tend to think a…


Move the story along without dropping your character

Improv comedy is a type of storytelling. Every story needs conflict. Often, the conflict is that the characters are trying to solve a problem or overcome some obstacle. But sometimes you find yourself in an onstage conflict that seems to go against the very nature of improv. I’m talking about disagreements and arguments between characters.

It can be fun to discover that a couple of characters completely disagree on something. For example, perhaps we start a scene with a happy married couple, Anita and Sammy, sitting on the porch at sunset. They talk about how happy they are together and…


Turns out mainstream adulation comes in strange forms

In the past year, recording artist and all-around bad bitch Lizzo has enjoyed many honors signaling her success in the music industry: chart-topping records, a double platinum single, performances at the MTV VMAs and BET Awards, a collaboration with Missy Elliot. Lizzo is on top of the world.

But recently, she achieved something that signifies pop culture penetration like nothing else: a KIDZ BOP cover.

If you’re not aware, KIDZ BOP is a series of compilations that reimagine the most ubiquitous pop songs with children in mind. With a rotating cast of prepubescent singers, the entity has been replacing…


I don’t know what I’m doing and neither do you

Every time I spend more than 3 minutes on Medium, I feel like the world’s biggest failure. And that I’m lazy and bad and if I just keep clicking and skimming, I’ll eventually become successful and rich and happy and loved. Wherever you look, there are people promising they know the secret to sales, the secret to pitching a story, the secret to freelancing, the secret to finding love.

In my mind, I know most of it is bullshit that we’re scraping together for content. I know that at least half of these posts are recycling the same tired advice…


Recognizing the signs is the first step to recovery

It seemed so innocent at first. Your friend, partner, or child signed up for a class in improvisational comedy. They wanted to get over their fear of public speaking. They wanted to meet new people. They wanted to break out of their shell. Little did you know the monster that would emerge from their shattered inhibitions.

The following symptoms may mean that your loved one has been seduced by the cult of improv.

They won’t stop evangelizing.


In improv, you can be anyone. Don’t take that from others.

When you ask someone how doing improv makes them feel, you often get answers like “free” or “liberated.” That’s because when you walk onstage, there are no limits to what you can be. In one scene, you’re a fire fighter. In the next, you’re an all-knowing alien. In another, you’re a sentient dust bunny.

Even if you stick with human characters, improv means you’re not limited to the human you are offstage. I could be a teenage psychic, a tech CEO, or a hapless baker. The possibilities are endless and that’s why no two scenes are exactly alike.

But sometimes…


New to theatre? These terms will help.

People start doing improv to get out of their shell, become more comfortable with public speaking, or just to have fun. For many, it’s their first time getting onstage, so terms like “downstage” or “cheat out” may be completely new.

Here are a few common stage terms used to give instructions in theater and improv.

1. Onstage/Offstage

You can probably guess what these mean. Onstage describes something or someone that is… [drum roll]…on the stage! Offstage is off the stage.

2. Wings

The wings* are the areas right next to the stage. …


Improv starts with a suggestion. Here’s how to get good ones.

Getting a suggestion is an integral part of improvised comedy. It gets the audience involved and it proves that you are making up the show on the spot. But sometimes, it feels like you’re asking the same question over and over again, or maybe you’re not getting suggestions that give your team anything to work with. Or maybe you just keep getting “dildo” yelled at you.

There are many ways to ask for different types of suggestions — here are just a few. …


The energy secretary’s ignorance points to a far more insidious problem

US Energy Secretary Rick Perry (L) and the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy (Unseen) talk to journalists during a joint news conference. Photo: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

It’s bad enough when your kooky uncle shares painfully obvious conspiracy theories on social media. It’s a whole other level of exasperating when the United States energy secretary does it.

Former governor and current Secretary Rick Perry shared a widespread and unconvincing Instagram hoax on Tuesday, the usual “I don’t consent to a changing policy” text post. “Instagram DOES NOT HAVE MY PERMISSION TO SHARE PHOTOS OR MESSAGES,” the message read. He was met with online ridicule and a number of embarrassing headlines, many of which pointed out that Perry controls America’s nuclear arsenal. …

Allison Gauss

Writer, musician, improvisor, recovering pessimist.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store