Over the years, life has made me somewhat of a skeptic. My natural instinct is to be guarded and closed off and to question people’s motives. I have lived a pretty lonely existence these past few years because of that mentality. However the more I get into improv, it is not just confidence in myself I am finding, it is confidence in humanity that I am sort of rediscovering, after developing a thick layer of bitterness around me over the last decade. The comedic scene work I have been exploring in classes makes me feel inspired to collaborate with people and trust myself and them enough to see where that takes us and what story we can come up with together. Being around people who have such a passion for comedy and storytelling makes me excited to participate in the human experience again.
Finding improv in my late twenties was like re-reading an old classic I read when I was younger and finding even deeper meaning in its message, years later.
I have just finished another four week performance class with a new teacher, Mat Maitland. He was heavily involved with the Improv Guild (which I checked out a little too late, right before they went on haitus) and currently is a part comedy troupes Notorious and Attack of the Heart, works with the Kinkonauts and is a player with the newly formed Obviously Improv. I have seen Mat perform over the last few months and have grown into a genuine fan of his style of comedy. He seems to linger in this sweet spot between short and long form improv and something about watching him on stage inspires me to get up there and experiment the way he does with such ease. To say the least I was pretty stoked to take his class! And I was not disappointed. Mat is just as inspiring as a teacher, as he is as a performer. He would start our classes with these truly unique and completely ridiculous warm-up games that would loosen us up and get us open to perform in class. To be honest I am not a huge fan of warm-ups but Mat’s were so much fun and I was totally opened to the ludicrousness of them. The class was filled with lovely people from all walks of life including, high school, the trades and the corporate monkey-bars I swing on. But it seems that our love for improv and comedy were all we needed to become great friends and have fun together in class. It was joyful class that I felt safe enough to perform in, open enough learn in and coached enough to grow within. This class taught me the importance of breathing and that not every moment on stage needs to be filled with words, and that’s hard because I am a huge of fan of words. Mat was always honest and helpful when he checked in with us after scenes and I saw everyone in that class take in what he said, use it and grow. It was great experience and it really helped me as an aspiring performer. The absolutely wonderful completion to this class is that Mat is organizing a show for us to be in. I feel like now that I have been on stage, I am hungrier for it than ever! I feel like every time I am brave enough to do it, I grow as performer and a person.
I am glad that I took improv off the shelf, blew off the dust and rediscovered how good it can be in my life. This Sunday I start a women’s only class with the talented Laura Tennisco of Obviously Improv and I am pretty pumped to continue my journey.
PS – The greatest improv show concept of all time is happening April 19th! It is called Catching Funds and it is a fundraiser for Obviously Improv featuring the players from Improv Theatres around the city competing in a Hunger Games like competition. Ummmmm – sounds like the greatest thing ever, right? YOU SHOULD ALL GO!