You – yes, you – should take a beginner’s improv course.
The course I took in improv has been one of the most impactful experiences in the past year of my life. A strong statement, considering that I have undergone a breakup, two moves and a shift to a new company in the past 7 months – but among top experiences, learning to let go, forget to be nervous while performing in front of others and remembering how to play is an experience that I would recommend all adults have.
When do we stop playing? There is a time that most of us decide to grow up and stop having so much fun. It has been proven that adults smile and laugh less than children, and certainly easy to observe that adults play less games than kids.
Improv tears these habits apart, forcing you to play, make mistakes and laugh at yourself.
My journey in improvisation began when I enrolled in BATS Improv, a local improv school located in San Francisco, this past December. Beginner’s improv class was like learning how to fail again:
– We played games like “Ball”, where the object of the game was to keep the ball in the air… and clap widely when someone messed up when they managed to miss the ball
– We went around in circles in the game of “Three Things”, demanding that our neighbor tell us three things about a category that we make up on the spot (“name three things that fly”), with the goal of this person rattling off three answers, while looking us in the eyes, without worrying about being right
– We practiced and mocked the idea of status with a game where we pretended to be ‘high status’ or ‘low status’ – taking a deep and reflective look at society and the artificial constructs that constrain us
– Tons of other games
There are so many ways in which mainstream American education teaches us to be afraid of failure, new and different ways of approaching problems and spontaneity. Beginner’s improv was six weeks of an experience to remember, again, how to make mistakes (that’s how you learn! and it makes for good comedy without even you needing to force it), how to play and how there are more than one ways to skin a cat.
Have you taken an improv course before? What was your experience in the class?