Improv comedy is a form of theatre where there is no script, and everything is made up on the spot, based on audience suggestions. It’s kind of like your average day! You don’t wake up in the morning and reach for your script. No, from the moment you wake up, to the time you go to bed, every interaction and every conversation, is relatively improvised. Though you have been doing this for your entire life, there are ways to improve on these improvised moments you face each day, and ways to use the skills of improvisation to make life more…fun!
There are many beautiful foundational elements of improv such as: listening, trust, developing relationships, being honest, and being in the present. Whether you’re taking an 8-week class, participating in a one-time workshop, or performing on a stage, you learn more than just a special form of comedy, you learn how to take care of the people around you. As a result, the skills you learn can also be used at home with your family, at the workplace, and even in the community.
Let’s look at the skill of listening. When you train as an improviser, you must focus on your listening skills. A common misconception people have about improv is that you must be “quick thinking” and “funny” to be successful. Nope. You just need to listen to your scene partner with your ears and your eyes. If they say something, you listen, and build off what they just said. If they do something, you watch them and build off what they just did. You don’t need to be in a rush to respond either. Take it in…allow it to evoke a feeling or emotion…and add to it! Imagine if you applied that to your day-to-day interactions with others! And that’s just one of the many skills you learn to enhance when you enter the wonderful world of improv!
So, what does an average class or workshop look like? Most class or workshop sizes are about 8-12 participants. At Elm Street, we have teen classes as well as adult classes. Classes are full of high energy fun and amazing group collaboration. People of all different backgrounds and experience levels end up in classes together. And as a result, many fun, spontaneous moments occur!
“I’ve always wanted to try improv but never had the chance. I took the level one and level two classes with Joe Lemmo at Elm Street and had a blast. It’s fun but also a great exercise for the mind to be open and fluid. It’s a great exercise to stay present and open for the next thing that life brings.” – Bruce S.
Please, consider signing up for an improv class, so you can start living your best unscripted life!
Joe Lemmo is the Director of iThink Improv, Elm Street Cultural Arts Village’s in-house improv comedy troupe. He is an educator and teaches improv classes/workshops at Elm Street and around Metro Atlanta.