I took my first improv class in New York City 2001. I had just graduated from college, moved to the city and was dead broke. One of my 'cheap tricks' I developed during those years involved going out on a Friday night with $10 in my pocket and buying one beer--whatever was the cheapest on tap--and nursing that one beer the entire night. One time I bought a beer at 7pm and didn't put down the glass until 2am. That's 6 hours of holding one beer that became gross and steamy from the heat of my hand. I was so proud of myself that I journaled about it.
I tell this to you because I was 22 years old living in New York City, one of the most expensive cities in the world, working at Simon & Schuster publishing, making $26,500 a year. I could barely afford my subway Metrocard. And yet, I made sure I could afford to pay $300 for my first improv class. Somehow I knew that improv was more important to me than groceries.
That first improv class was absolutely magical for me. It taught me to listen harder than I ever had before, and to be unafraid to make mistakes. I remember belly laughing often and going out for beers (or in my case...ONE beer) afterward. I even made a few lifelong friends from that single class. Heck, the instructor attended my wedding a decade later.
What I probably learned most was that Improv isn't a skill. It's a philosophy. Say yes as much as possible. Try. Fail. Get up. Do it again. Laugh a lot along the way.
We have a new 101: Intro to Improv class starting in April and it thrills me that we have the privilege to be part of someone's own improv story.