One year ago today I took my first improv class. It was the first of 8, 3-hour long sessions in 5 days with the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York. Living in Boston, I needed to take advantage of the “intensive” program for Improv 101. I took a week off from work and stayed in New York. I performed in two stand-up open mics but I spent most of the week seeing every improv show I could at UCB. The intensive schedule really brought together our class, which would eventually be known as 5-Day Big Bootie Experts. Our instructors were Mike Still and Shannon O’Neill who were both great and have since appeared on one of my favorite podcasts, Matt Besser’s improv4humans.
During my stint at UCB I was so excited to do more improv, I signed up for Improv 101 back home at ImprovBoston with Dana Jay Bein. For some reason looking back on this class is a blur. I think that’s because with 101 at UCB, they focus on teaching improv scenes between 2 people and because my class ended up being really tightly knit due to the intesive-ness of it. 101 at IB focuses around short form games and I think that it was a little jarring trying to remember all the formats and correct ways to play them (which sounds silly now). That class was also a lot less closely knit, which I attribute to ending early Sunday afternoons and no one felt like going to the bar afterwards.
I’ve continued to take classes through to today, having 201 with Christine Cuddy where we focused on getting better at short form improv, 301 with Jackie Arko where the long form structure Harold was introduced, 401 with Shannon Connolly where we continued to learn about the Harold structure, and I’m now in 501 with Will Luera where we have learned more long form structures like the Armando, Close Quarters, Living Room, and J.T.S. Brown. The last level of improv at IB is 601, which I will be starting in October. I’ve been fortunate to have liked all of my teachers so far and would recommend any of them.
After 101 at ImprovBoston I started attending YAP, short for Yes And Practice, also at IB. It is a weekly drop-in class on Sunday afternoons for people of all levels to have an extra practice during the week to hone different improv skills. I attended this most weeks from January through May of this past year and only stopped taking it to help run the Long Form Improv Jelly with Tom Towell. This was like YAP but for more advanced improvisers who could run long form structures like the Harold or Armando. It’s now on a hiatus but will hopefully be returning soon.
Most recently, I’ve been a part of starting an improv troupe with some friends I’ve met at ImprovBoston. I’ll have more on that as it becomes more clear what our deal is. I’ve spent a year learning and now I’m getting into actually rehearsing and hopefully performing regularly.