No one prepares you for how hard it is going to be after you graduate college. The social media era we live in makes everyone look as if they are livin' it up and having LIKE THE BEST TIME EVER. The after college life has been pretty challenging, and I remember the day when I decided to flipping do something about it. So I signed up for an "Intro to Improv" class.
I've been told that I'm funny my entire life. That is a true fact. Improv always interested me, I worshiped the ground that Ryan Styles, Colin Mochrie, and Wayne Brady walked on as a youngster. I spent hours watching "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" One day while I was sitting bored out of my mind at work I thought, "Dammit, I want to take an improv class!" Immediately I googled "Improv Classes Birmingham" clicked the first link, saw they had a class starting in 4 week, and signed myself up. As the weeks went by I kept all this a secret incase I decided to chicken out, but finally told one of my roommates the night before my first class. It was like I was confessing a crime, "I SIGNED UP TO TAKE AN IMPROV CLASS 4 WEEKS AGO AND MY FIRST CLASS IS TOMORROW AND I HAVEN'T TOLD ANYONE BECAUSE I DIDN'T KNOW IF I WAS GOING TO DO IT FOR REAL AND NOW I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'VE GOTTEN MYSELF INTO." She just smiled and laughed.
Lets set the scene, I signed up for an 8-week Level One Improv class in Birmingham, ALABAMA. This wasn't going to be the cool hip classes at Second City or UCB with a bunch of young aspiring SNL cast members, this was going to be an entirely different pool of players. There was about 7 people in my class, I was the youngest, I didn't know a single person, and they were just regular people who had jobs. No one wanted to be famous, mostly everyone was there because they were curious about improv. One girl admitted her mother signed her up for the class so she could learn to talk to boys better, which is utterly hilarious. (She ended up being pretty dang funny!)
Our first moments of class were spent playing the warm-up game "Hot Spot." Essentially everyone gets in a circle, one person in the middle starts singing, and then people have to "save" them by jumping in a taking their place singing boldly. For most people this sounds like their worst nightmare, and when I recount this to people they look at me with terror in their eyes. BUT NO, I knew from that first moment when I jumped in the middle of that circle singing "Don't Rain on My Parade" this is what was missing from my life. Standing in a room of complete strangers belting a broadway show tune like I just don't give a fudge.
As the 8 weeks went on, I learned the basics. "Yes, and", never say "no" or "but", try not to ask questions, and be chivalrous toward your scene partner. I learned that every improv class has it's Michael Scott, lets call ours Rosie. She was a retired lounge singer and now part-time oil painter. She was in her late 60's early 70's and boy was she her own SNL character. Her signature "improvisation" in any scene was always her exclaiming "I WANT YOUR BOD." Yes. She would make such a proclamation and fling her body upon yours with a Victoria-style swoon. This happened in about 67% of the scenes she participated in. The other 33% consisted of her repeating whatever our instructor used as an example for the game. While at times this got frustrating, it was friggin' hilarious to behold.
Improv gave me the joy and silliness I needed in a confusing time. It taught be to relax and be present in social settings, to really listen to people when they talk, and most importantly it reminded me to not give a **bleep.** Inside every funny person is the world's most insecure person, and I'm not exception. Improv healed me in a lot of ways from the angst and impatience I've had with my life.
Naturally life, work, and graduate school got in the way for my little Monday night happiness and its been about 6 months since I've been able to take another class. I really miss it, Rosie the most. For now I'll just savor the memories of making a complete ass of myself in front of my seven strangers.