When you're running an improv theater, you have a lot to think about. Marketing, community outreach, and coaching are just a few things you have on your plate. Have you thought about sound effects?

When you're performing, you're building a world for the audience. The stage performers are important, they're space object-ing and heightening the scene, and listening to offers....but so is the sound person who is in the tech booth. Well...could be. They have so much power to build a world, and help improvisers...but how often are we taking advantage of sound?

Here are five valuable sounds you should give to your sound tech. It can radically change and help a show. It can infuse scenes with energy and excitement. And, it reminds the stage performers, "the sound tech has our back!"

Please download the sounds, and let me know if they've been helpful for your productions. Also, these sounds are creative commons zero (cc0), so enjoy them for any production. Have fun!

(if you like these sounds, and would like more I am happy to make this a regular feature.. Just leave a comment and let me know.)

1. Door knock / Door open 

This is how the list begins! With a cheat. I'm lumping two sounds into number one. When there's a knock at the door or a door opens the world can change dramatically. If the scene isn't clicking, if some energy needs to be pumped into the scene, reach for a door knock, or crack open a door. It can be such a gift when someone enters the scene.

2. Gun shot

Need something to cap that scene? Want to inject some adrenaline in the show? Try a gun shot sound effect. (also very fun to play during a blackout."Who got shot!" "What happened?" The audience will be on the edge of their seat as the next scene begins. Just, make sure those players don't ignore the gunfire, or the audience will feel cheated).

3. Atmospheres [restaurant, forest, subway]

I'm cheating again. I'm lumping three sounds under atmosphere. Space work goes so far. Sometimes an audience likes to hear some noise at that coffee shop, car ride, and forest. Soundscapes can really help heighten tension too. Ironically, when people aren't talking, but the soundscape can be heard, tension, I've found, increases in an audience.

4. Phone

Much like a doorbell, a phone means something is about to enter the scene. Let's hope the players treat the call as something very important, a things-will-never-be-the-same-moment.

5. Bell

This is more a technical choice, then scenic. If your company plays improv games, and you relay on a physical bell, I strongly suggest getting a bell sound effect too. I can't count the number of times this sound effect has saved our ass when we've misplaced the physical bell.

We hope these sounds make your improv productions even better! If you would like to receive more sounds, just leave a comment and let me know or email me at

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