Does Improv Comedy = The Fountain of Youth?

By The Second City | Feb 14, 2022

The title is hyperbolic, but a study in the Gerontology and Geriatric Journal was recently published that is titled “The Effects of Improv Training on Older Adults in a Long Term Care Facility.” The study was done in collaboration with Northwestern University. 

15 adults - with a median age of 83.6 years - who were all living in a residential care facility, were put through The Second City’s “Humor Doesn’t Retire” program: an 8 week improvisational course that met for 2 hours every week. Participants were surveyed both before and after the course and the results were pretty exciting. 

“Participants experienced significant improvements in social isolation and perceived stress, and trend improvements in positive effect, self-efficacy, and anxiety. Participants described themes of increased attentiveness, becoming more relaxed, increased cognitive stimulation, and improved communication.”

Here are some of the survey results in the words of those taking the improv class.


“I have grandchildren and I used to be more negative: ‘yes, but,” instead of ‘yes, and.’ We give options to one another.”

Improved Socialization

“Loved the classes! Loved them! Because it gets you together with the other residents. You form friendships you wouldn’t normally have.”

Thinking and Cognitive Stimulation

“I think it stimulates the way of thinking for you to encourage conversation. It’s an enabler of humor. It’s an enabler of conversation. It’s an enabler of thinking more.”

As the study notes, this is the first mixed methodology research to show objective scientific evidence that an improv course (in particular, The Second City’s “Humor Doesn’t Retire” course) significantly impacts older adults in a long term care facility.

For more information on “Humor Doesn’t Retire:” click here!


Written by Kelly Leonard

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