Four actors stand on stage waiting to play a game. They sway from side to side and look down at their feet. They’re excited and anxious. They don’t know the game yet, and they don’t know what they’ll say. Even so, they’re about to perform. It’ll be something new, something they’ve never done before — and will never do again.

Which is the whole point. Improv is a form of comedy that’s made up on the spot. There are no rehearsed scenes or written dialogue. There’s just a “game” for guidance and the word go. Which means improv can happen anywhere. And it does. While stalwarts like The Second City in Chicago and the Brave New Workshop in Minneapolis have been preaching the gospel of improv for decades, a slew of new improv companies, including Des Moines’s The Last Laugh Comedy Theater, are popping up all over the Midwest and bringing improv to the spotlight in major cities.

Urban Plains sat down with Last Laugh comedians to talk about the growing improv scene in Des Moines.