Improv 101

So on a whim, dare or agreement on a comment on someone else’s blog, I had signed up for Improv 101 classes at the UCB Training Center.

The first class was fun, and really made me let go of some ideas and forced me to see things in a slightly different light. To those that have attended previous improv shows of mine in Jerusalem, then you know a couple of things:

  1. We pretty much mimicked “Whose Line…” with a certain degree of success, especially since on TV they get to edit and only do 22 minutes with tons of commercials. We did a solid two hours!
  2. I sat behind the desk and participated less. It was a much “safer” position to take, so if everything went wrong (and sometimes it did) I’d be “in the clear”.

So now I find myself under fire – to drop preconceived notions and to try to break through any doubts, layers of protective psychological mess, and in the great words of some Nike marketing person – Just Do It.

One of the requirements for the class is to attend at least two improv shows, in order to get an idea of what the format looks like when more experienced players go at it.

I’ve been to ten already. It’s a great learning experience – in both what to do and what not – and we will get a chance to re-hash some of the performances at the beginning of class on Wednesday. So I’ve got me a little notebook, to jot down observations during the show – in some attempt to use this as study material and analyze this to help me get better.

I think I’ve found the calling.

I got to be four feet away from some icons in comedy on Sunday night and watched them play (perform) with each other. Amy Poehler, Horatio Sanz,  Seth Meyers, Rachel Dratch (who arrived late and made a great game out of that), Jack McBrayer, John Lutz, and more than I can remember.

The guest monologist was Alan Zweibel, from the first days of SNL, and he regaled us with some stories of life back then, how it was and what it was all about. And how Gilda Radner tossed a brunch-plate-laden Woody Allen off a step at a party just to make Alan laugh.

Even though the format may not be as “strict” as what I am learning, it’s still amazing fun to see a bunch of people get out there and just have fun.

I want to do that, too.