The first time I saw Aaron Ranger on stage he was PETTTAAAAA PAAAANNN in Notorious. If no one has ever seen Notorious and you live in Calgary, you are terrible and you should! The first time I saw Calgary’s best, worst and only hip hop comedy group was also the first night I saw the Kinkonauts and Mixtape too. Aaron played in all three groups that night and I remember the way he burst onto stage with enthusiasm with any scene he was doing. A true sense of commitment and passion for improv radiates when he performs and his energy lights up the stage. As I have gotten to know Aaron as a coach of our Kinkonauts group STU and as a friend, I have come to learn how utterly contagious his energy can be.
A couple of months ago I was going through a little rut with my improv. I was stuck in my head about all the rules I knew and how I could best use them on stage. So I went to Aaron. Another really cool thing about Aaron is his accessibility to his students. Everyone in STU is pretty aware that if they have a problem, Aaron will work it out with you. Aaron calmly responded to my concerns by saying, “You know the rules, so have some fun and fuck it up!”. And then it clicked, oh yeah I am doing improv FOR FUN! I am not trying to be an academy award winning actress, I am trying to have fun with the people on stage and make a story that entertains the audience. And that is pretty hard to do when you are so deep in thought about rules and connections. Improv is about instinct and if you are in your head, you are planning and not going off instinct.
In STU classes and Level D classes I am taking with the Calgary Improv School, Aaron reminds us of the rules, brings up the energy and lets play on stage without overdirecting us. Aaron knows his shit, he knows formats and the rules and while he tells us about them, he lets us PLAY with them freely. This method of teaching has brought out a fearlessness in my improv that I have not seen since high school. I am eager to try new things and have fun doing it and somehow I escaped out of my head. And I think that somehow is Aaron Ranger.
I’m grateful to him for putting me in this mindset of fearless freedom because I have got some crazy stuff planned for my new year!