SH Sean Harding/blog
Joining the Improv Cult, Part One
Thursday, October 26th, 2006

Tori recently blogged about starting improv, and Kenner blogged about an improv experience that has apparently scarred him for life. So I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and share my experience so far. First, a disclaimer: I’m an absolute beginner at improv. A neophyte. A n00b. What I’m about to describe is my experience over my first sevenish weeks of improv classes. Please don’t mistake me for an expert. You’ll be sorely disappointed.

So, without further ado, I present you with part one of the story of my personal introduction to improv:

Improv isn’t the kind of thing I do. I’m not very outgoing. I don’t mind public speaking, but I’ve never performed in any way. I haven’t had any experience with theatre or acting or anything like that. In high school, a lot of my friends were into drama, but I never got involved. I was too busy with yearbook, newspaper and making videos. My more recent pastimes have included photography, writing and golf. So improv wasn’t an obvious activity for me to take up.

I’m not quite sure when the seed of the idea was originally planted, but my interest was revitalized by a book I read last spring. In The Art of Project Management, Scott Berkun mentions taking an improv class and was very positive about the experience. Scott connected the world of improv to my job, so I could rationalize it as something I might do for work. But even after reading Scott’s glowing testimonial, I wasn’t quite ready to take the plunge. Improv seemed so “un-Sean” to me, and I was more than a little scared by it.

In July, I joined MySpace. I’ve always had a distaste for MySpace, and I’d avoided joining for as long as I could. In the end, I signed up just to follow the Office cast blogs and such. Of course, once I was here, it didn’t take me long to branch out beyond the Office folks. After enjoying her LolliLove interview, I started reading Jennifer Eolin’s blog. Jennifer is, among other things, an improviser and she seemed pretty approachable. So I decided to send her a MySpace message asking for her opinion on a guy like me trying to learn improv. I did want her opinion, but I think I subconsciously had another reason to write her. I knew that if I asked Jennifer, and she said, “do it!,” it would be much harder for me to back out.

Of course, Jennifer did say “do it!” I believe her exact response was, “TAKE IMPROV!” She even went so far as to recommend the group to take classes from in Seattle. That’s pretty hard to turn down, and an answer like that was exactly the push I needed. I signed up for the fall session of Improv 100 at Unexpected Productions as soon as registration was open. And then I sat down to wonder what I’d gotten myself into. I spent the next several weeks in a combination of fear and excitement, not really having any idea of what the class would be like or if I would even survive.

To be continued in part two…

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