Slice of Life

How Improv Helps Me in Life & Business

Improv is all about being in the flow, staying present, and relying on your teammates. Image credit to hyena reality at
Improv is all about being in the flow, staying present, and relying on your teammates. Image credit to hyena reality at

I started attending an  Improv 101 class at Grafenberg Playschool last month. Before this class, I had an inkling of what improv was (I mainly knew about “Yes, and…”) but did not know what exactly I was getting myself into.

Thanks to the connection between Ignite Denver and Grafenberg Playschool, I now have the chance to experience improv. We are almost finished with the class at this point and preparing for our class show (along with some other improv groups part of Grafenberg) on September 28. Over the course of the past several weeks, I have learned a lot about how improvisation techniques can help me out in my day-to-day life:

  1. Improv has taught me to go with the flow. My class is a group of seven people (including myself), but oftentimes we have to do two-person scenes. I can’t predict what my teammates will do next, so when they throw their lines at me, I have to just go with the flow and think on my feet. This helps me in my life because, well, I am very much the type of person who likes to plan things out. When my plans get derailed, I get frustrated and upset. Improv has reminded me to just go with what happens–things are meant to go that way anyway!
  2. Improv teaches me to focus on the present. If I don’t pay attention to what my teammates have said (or what object work they’re doing), then I’m left feeling lost. I have to stay attentive to what others say or act out during each exercise and setup, or else I’ll just embarrass myself. With all the distractions in day-to-day life these days, I find it VERY hard to stay focused on one task at a time. I am glad that at my improv class, I have to really just pay attention to what’s at hand and not be staring at my phone while listening to Tom (my instructor).
  3. Improv teaches me to not take things so seriously. We have done some interesting exercises and have also said some things in our class that are just way over the top! However, I have found that each class helps me loosen up and not get so high-strung over the nitty-gritty. We all laugh at ourselves at least once in the class, and that’s just a good reminder for me and for all of us: LAUGH! Everything will be okay, regardless of what happens.
  4. Improv helps me get out of my box. In terms of creativity, improv amps things up a notch. To me, improv is like NaNoWriMo: thinking on the seat of your pants and hoping that whatever storyline my teammates and I are developing along the way will actually make sense (or at least be entertaining to the audience). So far, we have come up with very out-of-the-box storylines! I almost want to take a few of the scenes and write them into my next novel…
  5. Improv teaches me to rely on others. I don’t know enough about improv at this point, but I feel that improv is only improv when there is more than one person involved (with a few exceptions). So I rely on my teammates, regardless of whether we are doing two-person acts or doing multi-player scenes. I must trust my teammates that we are all going to do fine in each act, and vice versa. This is an important reminder for me especially in my business and in my volunteer committments that delegation is important in order for me to not overload myself, but also to remind me that we all have different strengths.

I am excited for our show on the 28th, and I hope that you will come support us at the Awesome Improv Show! RSVP for the event on Facebook. Donations accepted and we will have free beer!

Update on October 5, 2015: We had a beautifully funny show last Monday (September 28th), despite the fact that our team dwindled down to only four of us. Team Tomato Soup still had an amazing premiere at Grafenberg! Admittedly, we were nervous beforehand, but Tom got us warmed up and ready to improvise before the show. Last week was also my first time attending an improv show, and I must say, it was VERY entertaining. Although I’ve learned in class that improv is not *always* about comedy, I still laughed the whole night watching the other teams perform.

Alas, my time with improv is short-lived though, as I have several other committments that take up my time. I am sad to end classes with my awesome teammates (we all work so well together in improv!), but I know that there’s a time and place for everything. Grateful to have had this opportunity to try out improv! I’ll probably step back into the scene sometime again (and nobody said that Team Tomato Soup can’t perform together outside of classes either…)