liz allen improv

Liz Allen Headshot wearing red sweater

meet liz

Liz is an expert improv coach with a nationally recognized reputation for turning any group into an ensemble.Since 1996, Liz has taught hundreds of improv workshops around the globe, from small entities to Fortune 100 companies.She believes improv makes life better no matter where you sit in the theater or on the org chart.


wherever you have a group of people
trying to accomplish something,
improv can help.
- liz allen

contact liz

about liz allen

"what liz teaches is something that's really from your gut and heartfelt."
-mike birbiglia

"eliminate the panic of
what should i do next"

-liz allen

For the past 3 decades, Liz has coached, directed and performed improv. In 1995, her improv troupe performed the first-ever improv show at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival. For 3 years, Liz was iO’s Training Center Director. She has coached many teams, including Valhalla, Judgement Free Tailor Shop, and Mission Improvable, founders of the Westside Comedy Theater in Los Angeles.In 1999, 2000 & 2001 Liz won iO Theater’s Coach of the Year Award, renamed the Liz Allen Excellence in Teaching Award.In 2004, Liz directed a main stage revue for The Second City at the Flamingo Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The Vegas Theater Hub awarded Liz as Guest Speaker of the Year and Best Workshop of the Year 2015.Liz was honored to coach The Commune, the improv ensemble in Mike Birbiglia’s 2016 feature film Don’t Think Twice.Before discovering improv, Liz worked for ten years as a consulting engineer. After receiving a BS Mechanical Engineering from NC State, Liz worked with United Engineers-Raytheon. In 1990, after moving to Chicago for a pharmaceutical construction project with Abbott Laboratories, Liz attended a show at The Second City, got bit by improv, eventually shifted careers.She can be seen performing live in her highly acclaimed scripted show Tonight I Am My Mother all over the country.


Liz talks improv with Mike Birbiglia.Liz talks with Lloydie James Lloyd with the Improv Chronicle.Liz has been interviewed about Don't Think Twice and improvisation by NPR Weekend Edition's Elizabeth Blair.UK Improviser David Escobedo did a great interview with Liz about all things improv.Jay Sukow spent 10 Minutes with Liz Allen.Compass Interview Series talked ensemble with Liz.Liz appeared on "If This Is True What Else Is" with Chris HallA tip to improvise more freely--take off the social mask.

improv for corporate types

liz offers workshops for a variety of topics, and levels, from c-suite to the mail room, in house or remote.

customized workshops available

fix your group

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How a group behaves is directly realted to a company's performance. If something on your bottom line isn't working, go upstream and fix your group dynamics.What ails your team? Ego? Everyone talks over each other? Nobody talks? Ideas are forgotten or over-belabored?Liz has spent years transferring the tenets of improv to the skills of group dynamics in corporate settings.Fix your group, even if you don't think it's broken.

plan for the unplanned

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If you don't have a plan for the unknown, then you're not prepared...but, there's no way you can prepare for everything.Improv builds the muscle of nimbleness to eliminate panic and judgement when things don't unfold the way you thought they would.There's another set of skills you need that they don't teach in school. Those skills are not freaking out when the unknown is at your feet.People are wildcards. Improv is here to help.

An example of the visual aids you'll see in a workshop with Liz Allen. We can plan all we want, but then the planning has to hit real life (aka the wild!) and this is what Liz and improv will prepare you to handle.

strengthen presentations

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There is an ensemble inside of you, which is your gut and your intellect. This is the group you depend upon as solo speakers. Liz uses group theory, but applied to an individual.By studying improv, you practice connecting your guts to your intellects and become accustomed to relying on both parts of yourself when speaking. You can plan your talk and presentation, but things will occur to you in the moment. Improv help you manage spontaneous ideas and not feel disrupted or overwhelmed.

decide faster

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Stop belaboring whatever you're doing. Improvisers don't have the luxury of pouring over decisions. Improvisers don't get to leave the stage and chat about what to do next.Decisions are made instantly in front of an audience. Those decisions are trusted and followed. If a group backs themselves into a corner, they re-decide on the fly.Imagine how quickly you could make a decision if you weren't afraid of a calamity. Improvisers avoid calamity by strengthening nimble decision making skills.

Need a recharge? A break from your day? Or a chance to get to know your coworkers in a new setting? Take the 45 minutes of lunch and douse it with improv.In a short amount of time, improv lets you laugh at the absurd, forget your to do list, and take a hangover-free escape.Liz will bring in a light hearted vacation over lunch. Give yourself something new to discuss over slack.

improv for fun

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Forget all of the theories, improv is an opportunity to laugh with your coworkers. Have lighthearted fun, and get to know each other on a totally different level.

virtual or in person coaching

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Liz loves to coach in person, online, or wherever works best for your company.

improv for performers

master the harold, slay the living room, or learn liz's silent silverado. with over 30 years experience in the world of improv comedy, she knows the ins and outs of longform.

your visiting coach awaits

harness group mind

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Group work relies on harnessing the power of group mind. After all these years, Liz believes this is the key to collaboration. If you want to be a strong team, work to harness your group mind. Liz can help.

expand your techniques

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When bony finger beckons, there are a million ways to translate your instincts into a move within a scene or from the back line. Liz reviews standard techniques and some of the more specialty moves lost through the march of improv time.Who can forget the power of a swinging door runner with a walk-off sweep?Get a reminder and a refresh on all the possibilities that await in a longform.

grow yourself inside a group

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Liz believes you can't grow as an individual unless you're in a safe group. Find your people. Or make these people your people and begin to trust yourself.Improv is a decision. You decide to show up, participate fully and offer as much of yourself as you can. You also decide to understand what others are offering and elevate them. Group is a choice, growing yourself is a choice.The decision to truly improvise takes courage.

virtual or in person coaching

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Liz in specializes in single, drop in workshops for you and your group.Hire Liz on a one-time basis for your team, either in person or virtually. (Liz doesn't hate online improv, and finds it better than no improv.)

don't think twice

liz was honored to bring her ensemble-first coaching to The Commune, the improv group at the heart of Don’t Think Twice.

"A smart, winsome comedy"
- The Atlantic

"Exhilirating! This summer's funniest movie. The best, most revealing film about comedy people and, more broadly, about artistic collaboration." - The Village Voice

"One of the best films of the year. Genuinely sharp, funny, and bracingly honest."
- The Chicago Tribune

Funny, insightful and honest, DON’T THINK TWICE looks at a common experience that’s an uncommon subject for a film: failure. Mike Birbiglia captures universal human experiences that happen in the lives of professional funny people. From the creator of THIS AMERICAN LIFE and with a top-flight ensemble of comic actors including Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Kate Micucci, Chris Gethard, Tami Sagher and Birbiglia, DON’T THINK TWICE tells a nuanced story of friendship, aspiration and the pain and promise of change.

tweet of Liz Allen and Mike Birbiglia talking about improv for the movie Don't Think Twice

"Don’t Think Twice ... plays with the ideas and realities of improv theatre, both on and offstage from a place that is not only informed, but inviting. It welcomes audiences into the artform with a love and respect that never gets in the way of new audiences discovering it. They even got Liz Allen to coach the fictional improv troupe in the film, which goes a long way towards bringing their performances an authenticity." - the improv network


liz's thoughts on ensemble

Liz believes that group mind is.It exists.Liz feels it's a creative force, and it’s a benefit to improvisers to connect with this creative force called "group mind" while creating collaborative art in an ensemble. Liz believes that group mind sends a bony finger to improvisers and taps them on the shoulder with quiet, clear information. Improvisers can feel and hear the beckoning of the bony finger, if they choose.This might sound like a load of hippie talk, but it works, in Liz’s opinion. Allowing the bony finger to affect improv choices removes unhealthy ego from the process, eliminates the panic of what should I do next?, and makes room for the group voice to prevail.Fulfilling improv doesn’t have to happen by accident; fulfilling improv can become the norm, and Liz believes incorporating the bony finger is key.

liz's approach to improv:


Improv is a constant exercise of wrestling one's ego to the ground and learning to sense the group, rely on the group and serve the group.To coach and to improvise is to ask yourself:

what does
this group
have to say on
this day?

See these theories put to work in Mike Birbiglia's Don't Think Twice.

Show development
Virtual Improv Coaching
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Team Building & Corporate Workshops

Liz's story
Liz's approach

Video / Podcasts