Growing up, I would watch the show "Whose Line Is It Anyways"; where everything was made up and the points didn't matter.
I loved the show because it was an excuse to watch TV late at night with my family. Plus, these contestants were hilarious.
I never considered myself to be exceptionally quick on my feet, and though an extrovert, I didn't think I was a "performer", let alone good at improvising.
However, by the recommendation of a friend, I was encouraged to go check out an improv class.
And like with all new things, I decided to try it at least once (okay, it was free too).
I signed up for an intro improv class at the Magnet Training Center, which was located in Koreatown (of all places).
Everyone was friendly and quite outgoing. We all chatted until Rick, our instructor, gathered us in one big circle.
My badass instructor (Rick)
Everyone settled down as we buckled up for what was to come next.
We started with an icebreaker introducing each other by saying our names while striking a super hero pose.
I felt my inside cringe and began to pack up my pride.
What felt like an uncomfortable 10 minutes of nervous chuckles gradually turned into a contagious laughing session.
By the end of our power pose intros, we embraced the silliness of the situation.
We proceeded with a few additional activities like the Vroom Vroom game, Pet-Peeve Ranting, and Song and Dance in Circle (that still makes me squirm).
However, my favorite activity was called the "Scenes from a Hat".
Essentially, Rick called out a scene and two people had to act it out without any scripted lines.
Examples would be a spouse forgetting the other spouse's birthday or a child coming home late to an angry parent.
I was excited to hear what my scene was and I started to pump myself up.
When I heard my scene, I couldn't believe it and started to laugh inside.
Rick asked us to play the scene where the boss was going to...wait for it...
lay off his employee.
If you didn't know, I was recently laid off and so this scene was less of an improv and more of a revisit down memory lane.
As soon as he said ACTION, I immediately went into character and started:
"Thank you for coming into my office today..."
I was fully immersed in the scene, added some tongue-and-cheek lines, and played it out like it happened yesterday.
The most difficult part was trying not to laugh and staying in character.
We ended the scene and I came back to reality.
I later apologized to my partner for being overtly bossy and we both had a good laugh after I shared my story.
At the end of the class, Rick shared some golden nuggets about improv:
1. Improv is like a dance and everyone wants it to go smoothly.
2. Natural reaction is the best reaction
3. The best improv is the combination of listening and trying not to be funny.
The whole class was a full two hours, but didn't even realize it was ending. It was exhilarating and afterwards I asked Rick if I could post this on my blog (thumbs up).
Afterwards, our (awesome) group hung out and decided to grab some food. We laughed about the experience, shared some personal stories, and even decided to take the next improv class together.
Everyone had interesting backgrounds, from becoming aspiring actors to having their own performance shows. And while we all had our fair share of challenges, we all used humor and laughter to get thru them.
It made me think that maybe the solution to our problems is to all laugh a little more.
It also made me realize that all of us actually do a little bit of improv everyday.
And I think that's what makes life fun, especially if we don't care about the points.