Elliot's Improv Journey
My improv journey started when I was living in Chicago, Illinois, had just dropped out of Graduate School where I was pursuing a Masters of Architecture and was working in the planning department of a major University. I didn’t like my job that much and didn’t know what I was doing with my life. On a whim, I signed up for an improv class at the Second City Training Center.
From the moment I stepped into that classroom, my life was changed. It started as just a way to escape the monotony of my otherwise boring life and an excuse to act like a child once a week (those that know me well will tell you I’m a five-year-old at heart). As I continue through the Training Center and in classes at the Brave New Workshop Student Union it became something more. It became my passion.
I’ve been consistently studying and performing improv for four years and teaching for two. It is the thing I most enjoy and can spend hours discussing it. It has also made me a better person. I’m a more active listener, I’m more confident and I’m much more creative. I truly believe every person can benefit from taking an improv class and here is why.
- The power of ‘’yes and’’: This is the first and most important rule of improv for a reason. This simple rule allows you to build things instead of tearing them down. By saying ‘’yes’’ to an idea you are supporting that idea and the person who came up with it. By adding an ‘’and’’ to it you are putting another brick on the wall. For instance, maybe your friend suggests you do something different with your Friday night instead of the usual. Instead of responding with, “What’s wrong with what we normally do?” you could say ‘‘yes’’ and offer some different options such as checking out some live music or going to a comedy show (hint LMA has a show the first Friday of every month at The Factory Theatre and one the third Thursday of every month at Belvoir St. Theatre!)
- Become more confident: There’s nothing that will make you more confident in who you are than doing crazy improv games with a group of strangers. It helps us realize that we’re all in this together and it’s ok to take risks, do things that are weird and not always be perfect. It also helps you stop caring about the unimportant things such as what you look like, what people think of you and what you’re going to do next.
- Think Faster: The nature of improv doesn’t allow you to plan ahead which leads to having to create things instantaneously. The more you do this the better you get at it. This ability to think fast comes in handy in all aspects of life. It can help you when your asked a really hard question in a job interview, when your boss demands a solution to a problem by the end of the day or when a first date asks you what your favorite movie is and you don’t want to admit it’s Mean Girls!
- Make new friends: At the first class of every Improv Level 1 that LMA has Executive Director Eran Thomson says, “You may not believe me now, but in eight weeks this room full of strangers will become a room full of really good friends” and he’s right. There is something about locking yourself in a room with fifteen other people once a week to play together that brings you close. The other part of that is you’ll also become friends with people you never thought you’d be friends with because improv attracts all different types of people. Over my years of improv I’ve become friends with accountants, legal aids, copywriters, mortgage brokers, teachers, marketing professionals and yes of course comedians. It’s truly an amazing experience.
– Elliot Stevenson teaches Level 1 Improv in Sydney and is working on many other projects TBA!