If you’re a regular around these parts, you might have noticed a new category in the navigation bar called ‘Improv.’ Gone are the days when I’d frivolously create a new category and proceed to put one solitary post in it, these new categories require commitment.
So, why add it? I’ve been involved in improvisation since around May 2013 and this year I’ve made the conscious decision to make it a bigger part of my life because I enjoy it, it makes me happy, it focuses me and I feel like I’m learning from it. I’ve also met a load of wonderfully talented new people and attended a lot more small and local theatrical productions, comedy nights, musical performances, etc. off the back of it.
Why did I get into Improv?
Last year when I was setting up websites left, right and centre and I was unemployed for about 10 weeks, YouTube held Comedy Week. I was already spending a lot of time in front of my computer at this point, mainly writing, so moving over to spending a little longer on YouTube wasn’t a massive leap for me.
I watched a lot of Comedy Week and during that time discovered Daily Grace (I also discovered Sorted Food, but that’s another story). I wanted to be just like Daily Grace and figured I was funny enough for that. It turns out I wasn’t, so I did a bit of research and found out that Grace had done loads of stuff that helped with her creativity and humour, such as drama and screen-writing at college (I wasn’t about to go back to full time education) and IMPROV! You can find out about her path to YouTube stardom on her Draw My Life video.
I’d seen improvised comedy shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and had a friend that was previously involved in a group, so I thought I’d try and find some people that would let me join in their fun.
How did I get into Improv?
Well, Google is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? And Birmingham has a lot going on it in, what with being the UK’s second city (deal with it, Manchester*). The first group I found were called Box of Frogs and they met in one of my favourite parts of the city, Moseley, which is now also my home. I emailed the contact on the website and received a very warm and friendly encouragement to come along in response.
Having made the realisation that I was not as funny as I thought, I was incredibly nervous about walking into a room with a group of people who had probably been meeting for weeks, months, years. My experience of most sorts of arts clubs at university was that they were all a little cliquey and ‘lovey’ for me. I’d struggled to break into the crowd and settled on trampolining. However, straight away at Box of Frogs everyone made me feel welcome and while I still felt awkward with some of the exercises, watching the scene work was hilarious and my face hurt from laughing at the end of the 2 hours session.
Why blog about it?
I want to write about improv, because like everything else I write about, I’m passionate about it and I hope that by noting it all down, I can refer back to it and perhaps, just perhaps it will be of interest to someone else and teach them something, encourage them to get involved in improv themselves or just entertain them (all of the above would be great though).
I’m not an expert and would never claim to be, but I’ve learned a lot from watching and practicing improv and I’d like to share that.
*I actually do like Manchester. I learnt to snowboard there and have a cluster of lovely Northern friends there too. Plus, it’s a pretty good night out.