If I have one “regret” about moving from Chicago it is that I never took improv classes at The Second City. I attended a drop-in class once with a meetup group and it made me think, “I should try this.” I lollygagged, though, and when I would think about it more, nerves kept me from signing up.
So when I moved to Bellingham, I told myself more seriously, “you need to try this.” Well, I finally signed up for improv 101 at The Upfront Theater and last night was the first class. I was quite nervous leading up to it, but felt more at ease once I got in there, met the instructor and the others.
Guys, it was so much fun.
One of the first things our instructor Robin told us was that the point of us being in that room was to unleash our silliness, and that she was going to make us uncomfortable, and that is OK. That probably reads like a threat, but she was very friendly and funny, so it was mostly comforting and reassuring.
We played a bunch of silly games that built on each other. One of our first games had us in a circle counting off 1 to 7 and making a hand gesture that determined who would go next. Whenever someone messed up, the whole group had to come to the middle of the circle and yell loudly. She explained we do that as a reset and to get us back in the moment. She talked about how often in life we can focus on “Oh no did I mess it up? I messed it up.” In our silly game, the yelling acknowledges — even celebrates — the mess-up and lets us move on. She also talked about how creative people have said failure is a key to being creative; it pushes you to be more creative.
There were a bunch of little moments like this. Between each game she would ask us our opinions and observations, and I think there was some pretty cool things we all discovered. I have heard comedians talk about their love for improv and the building blocks, like “Yes and,” but I was pleasantly surprised with all the little bits of philosophy in the class. It was fascinating being thrown into a group of strangers, being really silly together, and laughing a lot. It’s a diverse set of people, too, and I’m loving them so far. Most of us went out for drinks afterwards and spent as long talking as we had been in class together. I’m looking forward to the coming weeks of being made uncomfortable, laughing, and new friendships.