This past weekend we started our fall semester of comedy classes. This coming weekend we have two more Sunday classes starting (did not feel like being funny yesterday). At the beginning and end of every session I always reflect to myself, “Why Improv Comedy?”
If you want to know more scientific reasons why we need laughter and joy in our lives, READ THIS…
For me, first and foremost, it is fun. And I think I speak for every performer I know when I say “We have so much more fun than anyone in the audience.” Speaking for myself, I feel like a five year old kid, without a care in the world.
To an extant, I have always felt this way when I perform Opera, Shakespeare, Broadway. Not so much when I do TV. The process of creating a character from the ground up over a weeks/months time, growing that character through rehearsals, exploding like a big bang into life on opening night, and further discovery throughout the run of a production, only to feel a great loss after closing night… This process does often offer a deeper understanding of self and the world – at least when it works. Then I remember many productions when clearly not every “artist” takes what we do as serious, a script is less than stellar, a director underwhelming, etc. I best and worst moments as a performing artist have happened in such productions.
But with Improv, it is new and fresh every day. And when things go even remotely sour, tomorrow is another day. Every moment is a chance to change the path of a less than perfect choice. Even greater, every “mistake” truly is a gift to explore new options we would not have regularly consciously allowed.
Compared to a most theater programs, Improv allows a greater number of participants to explore performing and more quickly appreciate and utilize its benefits.
Yesterday at an Italian Festival in Hoboken, I saw 2-5 year olds dancing and playing to live music. I saw so many adults wanting to join, but of course fear of ridicule prohibits such actions. Instead we sit, sometimes clap, until we note we are the only one clapping. There was one elderly gentleman that never stopped clapping. Had he been a little more able, I am sure he would have been on his feet to each folk tune. I saw many other judging me just for clapping as long as I did. I did not care. When I stopped it was because my hands needed a break. I chose not to dance as not to upstage the performers. I do not fear spectacle but I respect the power of my presence and their turn to shine too much. (Or is that just my excuse LOL)
But how much more fun would the entire day be if we all got up and danced. WHO CARES if we do not know how to tarantella? Polka? Waltz? It’s folks music. Just bounce around and laugh at how ridiculous we are. Too many adults call something ridiculous when they should drop pretense and simply join the fun.
A performer takes that anxious energy, feeds it to our focus and concentration, and together we create the most wonderfully bizarre results. The audience is amazed and entertained by the quick wit and talents of the artists, but they rarely truly get to experience the level of engagement that leads to mental, emotional and physical transformation.
Taking Classes allows all to experience that transformation. I could list dozens of academic benefits of taking an Improv Class – Better Public Speaking, Team Skills, Leadership skills, Self Confidence, Creative Writing, Critical Thinking, Listening, Focus, Self-Respect, etc etc etc
But what I am talking about can only be experienced by DOING. SHOW don’t TELL every theater teacher has repeated thousands of times.
I am sure their is an Ivy League type that could come up with a word than means what I am talking about. But pretty sure they have no clue about what I truly mean. I even think many have tried to find this experience with the help of drugs and alcohol. But the effects of those numb the mind and body so you can truly experience it.
And unlike a lot of traditional theater classes, I believe Improv is far more accessible to the masses. A level one theater showcase is pretty painful to most, including some friends and family. Don’t get me started on youth music (I was a trumpet player at age nine, and I cringed at most of our concerts even then LOL). But we have had kids and teens performing after a 2-hour master class. Our immediate results are fun and fantastic, which inspires more students to continue study.
Improv by its nature is a community event. We like to think most theater is, but ego and insecurity often get in the way. Improv fails in the face of ego and insecurity. To create a scene with others you have to submit to the process. But to be successful in Improv at any level one simply has to commit to having fun (of course never at the expense of others.)
If you want to know more scientific reasons why we need laughter and joy in our lives, READ THIS. But that is all academia created by academics that I do not think truly get “IT.” Like those that teach music theory in an attempt understand Bach, comedy – and all live performance – reaches us in a way no academic can.
And I truly believe that no fan – even our best – can ever truly get as much from the experience as the performer. So by taking classes and learning the craft for yourself you get to peek into our world, and perhaps join it someday. WARNING: to do so fully may require giving up love of stuff and things for financial reasons.
We have three main points of focus in our classes.
- WARM-UP Playing games that get the individual and team mind, body and soul ready to rock. Warm up your voices, stretch your body head to toe. Relax and Focus.
- TECHNIQUE Building a language and skill set that furthers your ability to succeed on stage. A lot of this starts with warm-up games.
- PERFORMANCE Practice makes perfect. Every class/masterclass/workshop includes a performance element. We need technique and concept, but performance classes need to practice performance every possible chance. The best actors take classes but truly grow in the presence of a great director and other artists DOING. And every class (4-8 weeks or more) includes a public performance element. Don’t worry, it will still be mostly classmates, friends and family. DOING is a huge part of growing. We prepare and learn, but we need to perform and then reflect.
In addition to public classes and shows, we present entertaining and educational programming at corporate/private events, colleges and K-12 Schools. We host at our Times Square Theater and tour nationwide. EMAIL for more info firstname.lastname@example.org