Celebrities You Didn't Know Started in Improv Comedy

78th annual golden globe awards show
Celebs Who Did Improv Before They Were FamousNBC - Getty Images

Everyone has to start somewhere, and your favorite celebrities are no different. Many of the funniest people in Hollywood gained prominence and learned valuable skills doing improvisational comedy. Improv is one of the most challenging and vulnerable types of comedy, as it demands that the performer make up jokes and react to their co-stars on the fly. Considering where these famous stars ended up, it's no surprise that they were able to shine on the improv stage. These celebrities are proof that improv comedy is a stepping stone that can lead to Saturday Night Live, Hollywood blockbusters, and incredible television shows. Keep reading to learn more about these comedy legends who got their start with improv.

Robin Williams

Robin Williams is without a doubt one of the biggest movie stars and comedians to ever grace the silver screen. Though he did not formally perform with an improv troupe, he is one of the most widely respected improvisational actors of all time, often leaving a trail of hysterically laughing audience members in his wake.

35th annual people's choice awards show
Kevork Djansezian - Getty Images

Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler began studying improv comedy in Chicago and even went so far as to co-found her own comedy theater and training center called the Upright Citizen's Brigade. You could know her for her excellent SNL years or her many Film and TV roles like Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation, and she's absolutely a Queen of Improv.

ucb's 20th annual del close improv marathon press conference
Nicholas Hunt - Getty Images

Kristen Wiig

Kristen Wiig is one of the funniest ladies to ever grace the SNL stage, but before she was a cast member she performed with The Groundlings, a Los Angeles-based comedy troupe. She's also gone on to star in films like Bridesmaids and Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar(both of which she co-wrote as well).

saturday night live season 42
NBC - Getty Images

Steve Carell

Steve Carell first dipped his toes in the waters of improv comedy while he was a student at Denison University in Ohio. Later he began performing with Second City's improv troupe in Chicago, as well as teaching classes there! This comedy education primed him for his iconic role as Michael Scott in The Office.

the office
NBC - Getty Images

Will Ferrell

Will Ferrell moved to LA with dreams of becoming a star, and that is exactly what he did. He joined The Groundlings with whom he honed his comedy skills before becoming a cast member on SNL, and of course, eventually starring in some hilarious movies.

90 minutes with will ferrell benefitting cancer for college
Mat Hayward - Getty Images

Tina Fey

Tina Fey is one of the funniest writers and performers in Hollywood, but before she created 30 Rock, she was performing on the Second City stage in Chicago. One of her biggest achievements to date is becoming the first female head writer of Saturday Night Live.

saturday night live season 42
NBC - Getty Images

Adam Devine

When Adam Devine moved to LA in pursuit of his dreams of becoming an actor, his first stop was the famous theatre the Hollywood Improv. Though he wasn't offered a spot at first, he eventually began attending classes. While honing his comedic skills, he also met friends Blake Anderson, Anders Holm, and Kyle Newacheck, and the group made comedic internet videos together before creating Workaholics for Comedy Central in 2011.

adam devine performance
Scott Legato - Getty Images

Ellie Kemper

Ellie Kemper first began performing improv as a high school student under her then-drama teacher... Mad Men star, Jon Hamm. She went on to join an improv comedy troupe during her college years at Princeton, and also performed at both the UCB and the People's Improv Theater while early in her career in New York.

ellie kemper guest stars in peter pan goes wrong on broadway
Bruce Glikas - Getty Images

Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert originally envisioned himself becoming a dramatic actor, not a comedian, but that quickly changed once he got his start performing in Chicago as part of the Annoyance Theatre. The rest was history after that, and after years of laughs, today he hosts The Late Show on CBS.

lincoln center's american songbook gala inside
Neilson Barnard - Getty Images

You Might Also Like