Many have asked the question: why should we learn improv? And many, including myself, have answered with things like it’s good for education, useful in traveling, it’s therapeutic, etc. All of those reasons are true and fine, but there can be a much simpler, yet no less valid, answer as well.

Improv is fun!

Many people seem to be under the impression that in order to do something, one must have a good reason for doing it. What they may not realize is that doing something just because it’s fun is a very good reason. Having fun has a lot of benefits on its own, ranging from health benefits to organizational benefits.

A big reason as to why improv is fun is because you get to laugh! Laughter has been proven to have a positive effect on many different aspects of life. In a study by Melany Cueva, Regina Kuhnley, Anne Lanier, and Mark Dignan, they analyzed how laughter impacts health and healing, based on the belief held by the native people of Alaska that laughter is a good medicine. Of the community health aides and community health practitioners that were surveyed, 94% emphasized the importance of laughter in adult learning. In 1964, a man named Norman Cousins was diagnosed with connective tissue disease and ankylosing spondylitis, and doctors informed him that he had a one in 500 chance of recovery. One of the things Cousins did on his own in order to try to recover was fill his life with comedic films. “I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep,” he reported. Cousins eventually recovered from his disease, and wrote about his experience in his 1979 book, Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient.

It has been also said that laughter aids in the thought process. Stanley Kubrick once said, “The most realistic things are the funniest. Laughter can only make people a little more thoughtful.” If you’re laughing about something, it means you’re thinking about it and analyzing it. Therefore, laughing about things serves to give you a better understanding of the world around you.

Having fun also has been shown to aid in the work environment. Author Tom Peters claims that it is imperative for workers to have a healthy dose of fun in their lives, and he argues for creating a “culture of fun” in the workplace. Psychologist William Glasser proposed a new theory of the hierarchy of needs that differs from the hierarchy of needs detailed by Abraham Maslow, which include physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. William Glasser’s theory, however, includes love/belonging, power, fun, survival, and freedom. According to Glasser, the “fun” level is often unsatisfied in the work environment, resulting in a decrease of happiness in employees.

Even with all these benefits, it’s perfectly fine to do something just because you like doing it. We all have hobbies, and improv can be a very good one. If you need a way to validate the fun you have while doing improv, because you feel guilty for having fun and not doing anything productive, I have just given you a few reasons. However, you don’t really need a “good reason” to do improv. Improv is just fun. Everyone deserves fun.