CSW 194: David Koff and the Life-Changing Power of ImprovDavid Koff’s been on or around the stage for over 40 years as an actor, producer, director, and teacher. He’s appeared on the TV shows “The West Wing” and on “Sesame Street”, something nearly impossible to pull off.

After over 20 years of professional acting in Los Angeles, David and his wife moved to Portland, Oregon where he’s performed and taught improvisation at Curious Comedy, The Brody Theater and now, to the students of the St. Andrew Nativity Jesuit school. He and his wife Mary are expecting their first child in November.

I met David last summer at the Applied Improvisation Network World Conference in Paris, where he gave a talk about his work teaching improv to kids. As you’ll hear in our conversation, he started his teaching job thinking he was teaching the kids, but he quickly learned that they had a lot to teach him about the power of improv to change lives.

Have a listen, and let me know if you resonate!

In this episode we talked about:

  • What David does & how he has seen improv impact the kids he teaches
  • How improv has given his students the opportunity to tell their own story
  • The way that improv enables people to experience empathy
  • David’s experience with teaching applied improv & performance improv
  • When he decided that he could make teaching applied improv a career
  • The supportive network he has found through Applied Improvisation Network
  • How his teaching experience has made him a better performer
  • David’s background in acting and improv

Mentioned In This Episode

Applied Improvisation Network World Conference

David’s Keynote Presentation

Applied Improvisation Network

The Groundlings

BATS Improv

All That Jazz Improv Group

Connect with David Koff


Something Cool

Melissa’s Something Cool: Drawings of Dogs

David’s Something Cool: Fake Radio


“This is exactly when everything is changing in the body. You’ve got your hormones, you’ve got your puberty, it’s socially awkward, everything is changing and I believe improv is a great medicine.” – David Koff

“What we really needed was an opportunity for these kids to be able to talk about these very difficult issues but in a way that created opportunity, agreement, listening and suddenly it became applied improv.” – David Koff

“It’s kind of impossible to do improv without experiencing empathy.” – Melissa Dinwiddie

“We use our imagination to see what we might do about it and there’s no wrong answer.” – David Koff

“I wouldn’t want someone who is only a facilitator, not themselves an improviser, teaching applied improv.” – David Koff

“This might actually be a career.” – David Koff

“Applied improvisers are just so generous and open and willing to be vulnerable.” – Melissa Dinwiddie

“The funny comes out of being real.” – Melissa Dinwiddie

“A lot of the stuff that delighted me most was, especially in rehearsal, intentionally going off script.” – David Koff

“When you finally get it and you let go and you trust your instincts, it’s incredibly addictive.” – David Koff

“Improv makes better humans and it’s really good medicine.” – David Koff


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