Most people that get involved in the art of improv typically have an immediate affectionate for the form. Improv and Love go hand in hand, really. In honor of the commercialized Valentine’s Day holiday, this blog is dedicated to love and basketball, err improv.
The RISE Comedy Playhouse’s School of Improv explains to everyone who walks through the theater doors that improv is everyone’s own journey. Some folks do it for therapeutic reasons, some for psychological, some for confidence and some who simply enjoy entertaining people- and some do it for all those reasons. There are an array of reason why everyday folk get involved in improv comedy and end up loving it.
St. Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us and I had the honor to sit down and have some pizza with the wonderful teachers of the RISE Comedy Playhouse and asked them all why they love improv and/or what they love most about the craft.
Misty Saribal, a experienced performer and instructor, tells the group, “I love improv because it gets me in touch with my inner child, that radical kid who wasn’t afraid to talk with spaghetti sauce on her face.” Harnessing the inner child yields for amazing results on and off stage. Misty is one of two Level 1 improv instructors at the RISE Comedy Playhouse. She goes on to tell us what she loves most about improv, “I get in touch with ancient ways of knowing and being known: narrative, embodiment, and intuition. The magical moments of connection in improv make me feel really alive in a dangerous, wholehearted, adrenaline-pumped kind of way. What can I say? Improv is my medicine, and my most favorite thing to share with people.” As you see, for Misty improv is like medicine and the connection is one of the most important pieces to her journey.
I met Nick Trotter a few years ago and I love him as much as he loves improv. Trotter is one of two Level 2 instructors, alongside Voodoo staple David Schultz. With a strong background in clown performance and connecting to the audience on a deeper level, he explains, “What I love most about improv is that it is a live event. It was not taped yesterday, or ten years ago. It was not written in the past for some other audience. It happens in the here-and-now, involving all of the people in this very room, and it will never happen again. It has the immediacy and the high stakes of sports. It is the essence of theatre, and it does what no other art or medium can do: Be. Here. Now.” It’s true. Improv is all about remaining in the moment and this level 2 teacher explains it in the best way possible. Be here now.
“I love improv because it is a fun and creative way to practice being in the present moment,” seconds Heather Curran, the RISE Comedy Playhouse’s Level 3 improv teacher. Curran is one of the most dynamic, in-the-moment performers in the Denver scene. She tells us, “I love coming on stage with an idea and having it turn out completely different than what I expected because my scene partner and I discovered something original together.” Coming together as a group enables performers to not only elevate others, but have confidence in what gifts they bring to the stage as individuals.
Allison Learned‘s journey is similar to Misty’s in that she indicates, “I’ve not matured past 6 years old, so play time in strange lands of our mind’s make believe is quite delightful for my brain.” Allison comes from a diverse background in theater and provides a unique perspective on improvisation. She is Voodoo’s School of Improv’s Level 4 instructor. “I love watching people find freedom in creating concepts and realities that would be scoffed at elsewhere but in improv they are loved, desired and respected!” In most cases people will look crazy, but not in improv. In improv, everything is a vital piece to the show.
“I love improv because it gives us the chance to tell the honest truth. So often in life, we are scared to tell the truth, or unable, or unsure of what the truth even is. Improv forces us to slow down and accept the reality of what’s in front of us, and to respond with fierce honesty. That honesty may be funny, or heartbreaking, or empowering, or joyous. But it will always be a powerful experience,” says Owner and Level 5 instructor Steve Wilder. Wilder is right, the art of improv teaches everyone how to live more truthfully. His passion for the art is addicting telling us all, “What I love most about improv is that it is truly an equal opportunity art form! Anyone can do it and do it well. We all progress at different speeds, so what comes naturally to some may prove more difficult for others. But ultimately, if you put in the work and dedicate yourself to it, you will become a master improviser.” There is no better way to put it. Improv is for everyone, so give it a whirl.
In the comment section below tell us why you love improv!
There are countless different improv schools and workshops in and around Denver. For more information on the classes held at RISE Comedy Playhouse, please click here.
Jon Jon Lannen a writer and teacher living in Denver, Colorado. He currently instructs, performs and writes for RISE Comedy. Learn more about Jon Jon here.