Correction: My previous post stated that 999 should have been the emergency number, for ease of use on rotary phones, but it should have been 111; I was working from memory and didn’t check. Fun fact: the New Zealand rotary phones ARE set up with the 9 at the top, so if you’re using a rotary phone in New Zealand, 9 IS the shortest dial. And another fun fact: some countries changed the emergency number to 111 so it would be faster to dial (and you wouldn’t need a second ambulance for a finger sprain on the part of the dialer). Thank you to my mom and my brother for pointing out this error. I’m glad someone still cares about super out-dated technology no one uses anymore. -Sarah
I had my first improv class last week. It was awesome. The first rule of improv is to say yes to anything, which is usually a pretty good philosophy in life*. I tried to carry this over into non-improv things, which led to me going to a pretty great concert on Thursday** and an architecture boat tour on Saturday. But more important than saying yes is saying “yes, and…” which means building on the scene. If you’re a squirrel and I’m a squirrel that’s interesting, but if you’re a squirrel, I’m a squirrel, AND we’re pirating DVDs, then we’ve got a scene.***
As frightening as it can be (even for me) to stand on stage under the lights, everyone else is doing it, too, which makes it feel safer. And, you really get to know who you’re working with pretty quickly. It was hard to watch some people struggle, but just like in my classroom when a question hangs in the air longer than I’d like, I’ve learned that sometimes you need the silence. People need a moment to collect their thoughts. Usually, it’s only a beat or two.
This week we worked on building/establishing relationships in a scene. I was disarming a bomb, plugging holes in a sinking ship, typing, and delivering Pepsi (not at the same time). I played a coworker, a second cousin, an employee, and a snarky teenager (again, not all at once). I think what I like most about improv is the chance to play and pretend—I’m not actually a smoker or an old man in real life, but on stage I can be. And I can go from that to fighting fires or climbing Mt. Everest or stealing a car in a matter of seconds. As our instructor told us, everything we need is on stage. Just grab it.
One of the best parts of joining this improv class is the people. At least half of the people in my class were not from the Twin Cities, and 90% of them are women.**** I even made a couple of new friends that I can geek out with about declarations and three sentence scenes.***** And, at the end of it all, we’ll be performing in front of a live studio audience. Okay, now I just got a little nervous. But it will be fun. And even if I bomb, at least I’m doing it, right? Yes, and…
*Except drugs. I’ve found Nancy Reagan was pretty spot-on with that one.
**Martha Wainwright at Cedar Cultural Center with opening act Chris Koza. It was a strange (but fitting) combination of high class and lowbrow. And MW has great pipes and spectacular legs.
***I should use that in my next improv class…
****The teacher said this is reflective of “the industry” right now, which is funny because I’ve heard that about a lot of things lately: post-secondary education, higher education, improv, etc. Go Women! Or something.
*****If you want to know what these are, you’ll have to sign up for a class.