Definition of IMPROV*
: of, relating to, or being improvisation and especially
an improvised comedy routine
— improv noun
The definition of improv from *Merriam Webster dictionary includes the word“comedy” in it. So, inherently, you would think that improv must provide you with comedy or make you an instant comedian.
What has improv done for me lately?
Oh man, a lot. And way more than adding comedy to my life.
I started taking improv in January 2014 as part of an effort to get out of my life funk and incorporate more play. I actually applied to Saya Hillman’s Fear Experiment to be in the Dance group for the show in March 2014 because I thought that dancing over the (LONG) Chicago winter months would be just what I needed. Plus, I’m a (not so secret) huge fan of Step Up, Step Up 2 The Streets, Step up 3D, Step Up Revolution…you get the point. I love watching choreographed dancing and while Ido love to get a good dance session on with my girlfriends or husband, I have not taken structured lessons since ballet (?) when I was a little person. I don’t remember hating ballet but I’m pretty sure graceful is not my middle name. Gymnastics didn’t last very long either.
Back to improv. I checked the box that said “Yes, I would consider the other art form [improv] if not chosen for dance”. Well, Saya knows best and she put me in improv. I was TERRIFIED. I purposely didn’t apply for improv in the first place because I was WAY more fearful of it than dancing in a group! BUT…being in Fear Experiment improv, taught by Pete Aiello (Saya’s Best Friend/Husband), along with 15 other strangers was an incredible blessing in my life. Our show was in front of 700 people. 700, yo! Family and friends came out and it was a BLAST.
What had improv done for me winter of 2014?
Well, I met some amazing new friends. I learned to get out of my head, stop immediately thinking NO and what “Yes And” really meant. I learned how to start scenes and TRUST they would be fine, how to play, have spontaneous fun, belly laugh at ridiculous skits. I learned how to be physically animated and that in itself can be really funny (not always using words). I learned how to incorporate accents and OWN your character choice. I also learned that I think I was Asian in a past life because if I was ever asked to speak in a “jibberish”, Asian sounding words came out. I don’t think I’ve ever admitted that out loud before.
What has improv done for me lately?
After my husband and I picked up and moved from Chicago to Austin, TX in August of 2014, I knew that improv would help me. I wanted desperately to meet new people in our new town and remind myself to play again. I also knew that the YesAnd mentality would benefit all areas of my life: work, marriage, home, play, spiritually (yes, spiritually!). I asked my college friend to take the class with me (assuming she would say no). She said Yes And. I guess I was so excited about it that my high school friend joined as well after me telling her at Christmas party. She said Yes And.
We now had this new activity together that doesn’t include loud music and a bar stool…and it was their first time taking improv. We took Beginner Classes 101-301 with Merlin-Works and had our Graduation show in July 2015. I loved EVERY GD minute of it. And so did my friends (former and new). We now have new, awesome, improv friends in ATX.
My college friend and I are now taking 401 at Merlin-Works with Ted Rutherford – which to be honest, I previously thought that I was never interested in long form. BUT, improv is too good to me and makes me a better person so I thank Shana, Ted, Kevin, Michael, Jason, Quinn, etc. for teaching us and for helping us to YES AND the shiznit out of life.