Tag Archives: ComedySportz Improv Theatre

Top 12 Reasons to Take an Improv Class (part 2)

Posted on 13. Jan, 2014 by Courtney Pong in Blog, Improv New week, new reasons!

New week, new reasons! Check out some more great motivational blurby things from CSz playerz from around the globe and see why taking a chance on an improv class could be one of the smartest (and most fun!) things you do this 2014. Still haven’t read part 1 where we talk about how Saturday Night Live’s newest cast member, Sasheer Zamata, got her start? Go here!

Credit: Flickr Commons, Doug88888

7. Relieve some stress
“Improv is a huge stress-reliever for me! In 1986, I was managing a small non-profit theater company, working 80 hour weeks and making very little money.  Improv classes saved my psyche!” - Dianah Dulany, CSz Houston, Owner, 1986

8. To overcome obstacles
“Improv is very freeing.  When I’m on stage, I can be anyone from a pilot to a toddler, and I’m not limited by other people’s conceptions or misconceptions about me. Here is a blog I wrote about taking improv classes as a person who uses a wheelchair.” - Katrina Gossett, CSz Indianapolis, player since 2013

“Taking improv classes is important because there are less fortunate children in other countries who don’t have any improv classes to take.” - Graham Tordoff, CSz Seattle, 2013

9. If you’re not all stocked up on fun yet
“Learning improv reopens a person’s mind to the idea of play; a concept we embraced as children and often have to suppress as adults. Play leads to creativity, imaginative problem solving, and the acceptance of ideas no matter how silly or crazy! We all need more play in our lives.” - Doug Neithercott, CSz Twin Cities, Artistic Director, player since 1994

“You know how people are always saying ‘dance like nobody’s looking’ or ‘sing like nobody’s listening?’ Learning and performing improv is a chance to be like that all the time. It’s a rewarding way to live.” - Benji Cooksey, CSz Houston, player since 2012

“Once we “grow up” and become adults, there are so few opportunities to just play. Improv is a fantastic opportunity to let yourself be silly, flood your body with endorphins and shake off stress.” - Olivia Brubaker, CSz Philadelphia, player since 2007

“Taking an improv class exposes you to a variety of people from all different walks of life, but they’re all there for one reason — to have FUN.  Even if your goal isn’t public performance, the laughs and support you encounter is amazing.  The friendships I’ve made in the improv community have been some of the most rewarding I’ve had.” - Chris Duval, CSz Seattle, player since 2013

“Laughter is such a positive force – taking the opportunity to think on your feet, communicate/cooperate/collaborate with others,” - Stephen Bennett, CSz Houston, 1998

“Improvisation is the most exciting thing I’ve ever done in my life. People from many walks of life can benefit from this skill, not just comedians.  It’s the most fun thing that can change your life.” - Brainne Edge, ComedySportz Manchester, Owner, 2001

10. Because life, man

“Improvisation teaches you to embrace your failure, rather than fear it, helping you learn and grow from the times you fail, both on the stage and in life. So that next time, you’ll take that failure and turn it into an even greater success.” -Travis Williams, CSz Richmond, player since 2006

“One of the greatest gifts I get from improv classes is the conscious reminder of how good the word ‘Yes’ feels, to give and receive. Saying ‘Yes’ to all dialogue, situations, and personalities costs nothing and encourages brave acts of creativity and kindness. I am more daring in my offerings to the world.” - Anjl Rodee, CSz Seattle, player since 2012

“The basic rules of improv, which you will learn in any improv class, can be applied to every aspect of your life. The idea of “yes, and!” will transform your life for the better. If you do not take a class, you will never know.” - Nicole Devin, CSz Milwaukee, player since 2004 & CSz Chicago in 2012

“One of the great things I have learned is getting rid of my preconceived notions about how things should go. By accepting a yes, I open myself to greater possibilities. I also learn to place trust in my partners.  All of these translate to other areas of life other than the stage. I find do much joy in being a part of the creative process with other people. We’re capable of so much more when we are active participants in creating with others.” - May Yera-Smithwick, CSz Houston, player since 2004

“Life is all about making connections. I have learned how to truly connect with people, moments & basically life. There is such beauty in that.” - Jennifer LewiS, CSz Richmond, player since 2012

“In my ComedySportz classes, I get students who want to become professional stage actors or improvisors, but I also get students who want more confidence or need improvement in their communication skills for their jobs or businesses.” - Andrea Lott Haney, CSz Indianapolis, 2001

“Taking an improv class creates opportunity.  If you do what you’ve always done, you get what you always got. Improv creates new experiences and new outcomes.” - Patrick Adamson, CSz Quad Cities, Owner, 1996

11. Meet people!
“On five occasions, my career required moving to a new city. Four times, that meant struggling to meet people and make friends. The fifth time, I took a 101 class at CSz Portland. I’ll never fear moving again. I know where to find my people.” - Bill Evans, CSz Portland, player since 2012

“I first took improv classes at college when I was doing my degree at NYU. I think it helps me to be a better communicator, listener, performer, and thinker. I get excited when I meet other improvisers. I always assume that I’ll like them and they’ll be easy to talk to. It’s what I imagine it feels like when one friendly dog meets another friendly dog across the street. They just want to play.” - Kate McCabe, CSz Manchester, player since 2011

“As a long-time teacher of improv, I’ve seen: business networking which led to employment. Friendships established. One wedding that I know of (one couple met in the class and got married.) And of course there are several weddings that have happened because people took our classes and made into the show where they met their future spouse.” - Jeff Kramer, CSz San Jose, Owner, player since 1985

12. Learn how to problem-solve like a superhero
“What a lot of people don’t know is that being involved in improv is the single best thing I have done to improve my work life. I get stressed less easily, am able to better find solutions to difficult problems and can think creatively on my feet, faster than ever.” -Maria Bartholdi, CSz Twin Cities, player since 2011

“Improv has the ability to reshape your mindset from a negative to positive outlook and transform you into a superhero solution finder. Improv does for regular folks what bionics did for Colonel Steve Austin – it makes you better than you were before. Better, Stronger, Faster!” - Kelly A. Jennings, CSz Philadelphia, player since 1992

“I took my first improv workshop hoping it would help me to better perform standup comedy. I had no idea that improv itself would prove more rewarding for me then solo performance could ever be. Stumbling upon those lessons in teamwork, listening, adaptability and acceptance of new ideas–I had no idea how much I would get out of that. Now I’m a billionaire superstar and the King of Mexico!” - Mookie Harris, CSz Indianapolis, player since 1989

“Improv changes your entire perspective on the world around you. Suddenly, problems have multiple solutions and you see opportunity in even the tiniest scenarios. An improv class shows you how to take care of yourself and the people around you, which is just what this world needs.” - Camille Mitchell, CSz San Antonio, player since 2012

“If you can improvise in life, you can solve problems and isn’t that what life is mostly about?” - Melissa Kingston, CSz Milwaukee, player since 2005

“Not only is taking an improv class the most fun you’ll have, it also helps sharpen your mind for everyday life.” - Ethan Selby, CSz Boston, player since 2013

“Improv classes give you a chance to forget formal ways of thinking and truly let your body and mind respond in the moment. By actually listening to and not filtering your gut instincts, you’ll be amazed at the sheer joy of giving your mind exactly what it wants.” - Chad Woodward, CSz Indianapolis, player since 2006

BONUS THING (because I didn’t count them properly the first time, but maybe it’s a bonus because it’s the most important reason that needs no reason…)

Because you want to
“If you see an improv show and think, “I could never do that,” that’s a great reason. If you’re the funny one your friends keep saying should do stand up, that’s a great reason, too. I saw it as the first step on my road to SNL (I was an ambitious little thing), and so far I’ve ended up with wonderful opportunities and adventures as well as incredibly supportive friends I proudly call family.” - Jessica Carson, CSz Spokane, player since 2005

“A good improv class is like bungee jumping. It’s a safe way to do something absolutely terrifying.” - Nate Parkes, CSz Portland player in 2002 & CSz Chicago since 2009

“Everyone knows there are thoughts and ideas inside you that don’t have the chance to manifest. Improv is the tool and the exercise that brings your ideas to life. You’ll find yourself and all the inner angels and demons through improv classes…And don’t you owe yourself that?” - Sam Hansberry, CSz Twin Cities, player since 2010

“I came to CSz at a time of great personal upheaval and I knew I needed to do something just for me (“you do you”). I instantly felt surrounded by warmth, humor and acceptance. The big bonus: I found something I excel at and take great joy in performing and teaching.” - Amy Milshtein, CSz Portland, player since 2010

“If you want to be more confident, more outgoing, a more well-rounded actor, a stronger communicator, a better team player, a more effective leader, or if you simply want to feel more comfortable in your own skin, you should take an improv class. It will change your life.” - Jon Colby, CSz Indianapolis & Chicago, player since 1998

Interested in taking an improv class now? Go here to learn about ComedySportz San Jose’s Level 1 improv class and let us know if you have questions – we’re happy to chat! Cheers to your 2014 – make it a brave and fun one.

 

Why?

Zach Arnold

Why?

Over the past six years that I have been performing in the Richmond area, I’ve had several people ask me how it is that I got into this absurd (and I use that term in an appreciative way) art.

I’ve been improvising for 15 years, give or take. Didn’t really get deeply into it until the winter of 2007, where I went to an 8-week workshop at ComedySportz Richmond, and joined the main roster of performers shortly thereafter.

That’s pretty much it. That’s my how. Cut and dry.

I think the bigger, more soul-fulfilling question, would be why I got into it.

Everyone’s motivation for going to an improv class, or joining a troupe, or whatever, are as varied as the color spectrum. Some improv to improve their public speaking. Some, because they’re funny, and like being around funny people. Some, they just think it’d be a fun way to spend a night a week.

For me, though, what has become a great passion of mine started out as a strategy to gain confidence.

Not more confidence. Confidence, period.

Starting at the age of 10, give or take, I became stricken with extremely low self-esteem. In my mind, everything I attempted was doomed to fail. The successes I had, I attributed to outside factors. I never felt like I deserved credit for anything good, but everything bad was a result of some decision I made, some action I acted upon.

I hated myself.

Theater became my shining beacon when I reached high school. Not so much the idea of obtaining glory and fame, as much as the idea that I could disappear on the stage, be someone else, someone who wasn’t me. A role wasn’t a role, it was an alias, a disguise I could place over myself so the audience wouldn’t see just how terrible I was as a person.

I convinced myself that this was building confidence. That my self-esteem was rising every time I stepped onto the stage.

Really, it was hiding. Attempting to sweep the loathing I had for myself under the rug, to be worried about at some other time.

This tactic worked, to an extent. It worked for around 8 years.

But then the opportunities to be on stage stopped in college, due to grades slipping. With that lack of outlet, that lack of asylum, the crushing blows came back, tenfold. They never disappeared, they just waited, gaining power.

That power overwhelmed, and I found myself out of college in December of 2005.

There was time spent working in a job I came to despise. There was more stage time, thanks to a theater group I auditioned for in the winter of 2006. And as grateful as I was for finding these new and brilliant people, the self-hatred continued.

I convinced myself I was never good enough. Not good-looking. Not a good actor. Not not not not not….

The time came for a change of atmosphere. And that’s how I found myself in Richmond. And how I found myself finally enrolled in an improv class.

One of the first lessons, one of the biggest lessons, took me by surprise: Don’t be afraid to fail.

Don’t be afraid? I had spent the last decade pretty much scared to death of failing. So scared that I barely attempted anything that could prove to be a failure. Classes, work, girls, etc… It was all off the table.

But there was that lesson. Don’t be afraid. There’s no need to be afraid because those around you in the scene will help you, support you, keep you afloat in the tsunami of judgment going on inside my head.

This idea was foreign. Here I was, a guy who had convinced himself that I was a failure as a human being, and I was being told that it’s alright to fail? That instead of judging me, there would be people who had my back, who wanted to make me look good?

What the hell is that?

I resisted initially. Tried to prove that I belonged. That I was funny and people should like me because I was funny and oh hey look at me I’m funny and not at all telling myself that I’m a fraud and don’t deserve the attention I’m getting.

But then I failed. And nothing happened.

The scene went astray, went off the rails. But there was no yelling. No judgment of my capabilities. Just an, “Alright, let’s try it again,” and back to business.

I could fail. And instead of cursing at the failure, the opportunity for learning was brought forth.

And that’s when I began to grow. To slowly, so slowly, realize that by hiding myself on the stage, I was preventing growth. Stagnating the potential for the self-esteem to rise.

The improv continued. I got better at it. I got better with myself.

Now, here, in 2013, I find myself still playing, still performing. But no longer do I feel like I’m hiding from myself. Instead of feeling anxiety before stepping onto the stage, I feel a sense of joy and calm all rolled together.

I’m going to perform. And if I fail, it’s okay. I have people there to support me, or fail with me in a grand spectacle.

There are times when I still feel the self-esteem come to a crashing low. But I know those times are temporary, and that I will eventually find myself being once more at ease, and confident in my actions. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Zach is the Assistant Artistic Director of ComedySportz Richmond, and has been playing with us since 2006. Follow his blog at insertfunnyhere.

Middle School League vs Majors

YoutzfestCollageWhat an amazing show! I’m not sure who actually had more fun, the audience full of Loyal Fans, family and friends, the players, or myself, the Middle School League (MSL) teacher and acting referee for the show.

The kids, the middle school team, brought their A-game! They were ready to play and have fun. After all the players suited up, we warmed up improv style. We got into circle formation and started playing fast paced improv/theatre games that prepare us to be connected and play in the moment. The games are also designed to remind us of the importance of non-verbal skills such as eye contact. Then we end the pre show warm ups with some storytelling games to keep us focused on solid story telling skills which will help us develop solid scene work.

The older players seemed filled with a child-like innocence and joy in playing with their younger counter parts. Their exuberance in accepting the offer to play in the show with the MSL was infectious. Just watching the joy on every ones face made me happy to be involved in this show.

There were some people that thought the show with kids playing against the major league team would be a “kiddie” show, but that was hardly the case. These kids were fabulous! They had game and tons of personality. One of the young players, Robert, learned quickly how to endear the fans and encourage them to vote for his team.

As the ref asked for the fans to vote for the team they thought did a better job in the last round of improv scenes between the MSL team used their secret weapon. Robert, an MSL player, jumped up, looked at the referee and said with wide eyed innocence “Ghee ref, I sure hope some of the fans vote for us!” Then, ever so slowly, Robert turned his head to the fans with a wide smile. The loyal fans went wild, and the major league team threw their clip board, shouting, “We can’t beat that!”

The show continued to up the stakes as each team tried to gain love and respect from the fans for votes. Then in the second half of the show, as the ref asked for the fans to vote again, one of the major league players stepped on the field and asked the same question Robert had earlier. Of course the audience laughed, then little Abby stepped up on the field and said in the most humble and sweet voice of a child “It doesn’t matter if we win. We’re just glad to be here and get to play with you major league players!”At that moment the majors knew they lost the match. There was no amount of talent or bribery that they could use to influence the fans vote.

In the end the MSL team won. It isn’t easy to beat cute. I suspect that is one of the reasons W.C. Fields said “never work with children or animals.” Well Mr. Fields, I suspect you have a point, however, I for one, am eagerly looking forward to the next Middle vs Major League match.

5 Things To Help Your ComedySportz Audition

Thinking about auditioning for ComedySportz! We’d love to have you come and give it a try. Many of our players have been involved in and performing improvisation for years, but they didn’t start knowing how to be a great improviser. Many of us just tried out because we thought the it would be fun. And it was! So much so that we made the team, and have been experience oodles, and oodles of fun performing and being a part of the ComedySportz

Here are a few tips that can assist in your efforts when auditioning!

1) Be present! Think of improv auditions like a musical jam session and  just go with the flow. When you try to force the music it never sounds right, but when you just let it happen, it’s pure nirvana! Well do that. Let it happen by being present!
2) Don’t force the funny! Please, please, please, don’t try to be funny! It’s never funny when you try to force the funny. It comes across as “LOOK AT ME I’M FUNNY!! NOW LAUGH!” If that happened in a ComedySportz show, the audience (“Loyal Fans”) would cross their arms and become defensive or defiant. The funniest things happen, when you are not “forcing” the funny. Stay out of your mind. Thinking of the next thing to say while in a show, instead of simply responding, is writing script. And in going to your mind, you often do not hear what is actually happening and by the time you add the your line of thought, the line you just scripted in your head, the moment has passed, and it’s no longer going to be funny.
3) Support the players with whom you are working. Make them shine more than you want to shine. Make ‘em look marvelous! The auditioners always notice team work.
4) Fail! Don’t be afraid to fail. If you do, enjoy the moment. Generally, when a mistake happens in the show, the audience laughs. It tends to be comedy gold. So, accept it, embrace it, let it happen, and continue. If you act like it was a mistake, if you have that look of “failure” or “sorry” on your face shake it off, otherwise, it comes across as “I’m not good enough” and of course, you are.
5) HAVE FUN!!!!

Circle Of Life at CSzRVA

This weekend was a banner weekend for ComedySportz Richmond shows.

Over the course of the weekend, we had a scene that ended with the song Circle of Life from the Lion King. Our own Aaron Grant and his new baby Jackson, were in the audience watching. Compelled by the music Aaron walked up onto the field with Jackson above his head as if he were indeed Simba. All the players, instantly and instinctively acted as animals and bowed at the young kings feet.

Then we celebrated a 50th anniversary for a private party, cus we do that sort of thing. The party was all afternoon, and the fabulous food was catered. We sampled! It was yummy! Word has it that everyone had a good time. Well, that’s what the little Mrs.’ told her husband to say, and he did so right on cue.

The weekend was completed with a Loyal Fan proposing to his girl friend during a show. We got them both on the stage as volunteers for a game, which ended with him getting down on one knee and popping the question. She said yes, and everyone applauded! It was quite the amazing moment and our first engagement in our new theatre.

Yup! It truly was a weekend celebrating A Circle of Life!

ComedySportz Improv Theatre To Open on April Fools!

And that ain’t no joke! Or is it…

ComedySportz Improv Theatre of Richmond is set to open our doors again! We’ve been in spring training 
brushing up on those improv skills. We have a bunch of new players and the return of many of the regulars you’ve grown to love over the years.

We thank you for giving us the feed back we needed in compiling the research for our new location. Reading your comments and input was very informative, and some of you are very humorous! What tickled us the most was that many of you requested that we set our new home in Short Pump, but then we had equal responses to “Hell no don’t go to Short Pump!” We actually settled for a location in the West End about 5 miles away from Short Pump at the Gold’s Gym Plaza. You may know this plaza as the old Loehmann’s Plaza or the West Tower Plaza or where the West Tower Movie theatres are, or the place to get Gelati Celesti ice cream, or the place with the Starbucks!

You might be asking “What’s going to be different about this ComedySportz theatre?”

Well, we’re going to focus on the shows and not the food! We know our strengths and it ain’t running a restaurant. If you want food tho, there a number of different restaurants in our shopping center such as Peking, Pho City, Quiznos, and Starbucks. And if you’re an ice cream lover you’ll want to make sure to save some room form Gelati Celesti’s! We’ll have some concessions available, but if you want dinner and a show, come and eat and drink at one of our neighbors restaurants, and then come laugh at us!

And perhaps you noticed on the home page of our site that we have a fundraiser and are asking for the support of loyal fans in raising enough to get our theatre started. The fundraiser goes to equipment we’ll be needing for the new CSzRVA theatre such as lights, seats, etc.

That’s it for this bit o newz! Although we would love to hear your comments. What are you looking forward to seeing at the shows? What have you missed? What did you enjoy at our theatre? We love comments!