Tag Archives: Improv Classes

Lessons Of Laughter From Our Kids Camp Kids

MSLTeamWe’ve been having a wonderful summer with our Summer Kids Camp programs. All the teachers have been excited by the lessons learned, and the performances created at the end of the week.

Thought we’d share one of the highlights of the camps that made us laugh, or gave us that Aha HA HA feeling.

One day, when Miss Christine was teaching the elementary students, she started the class by sitting on the floor cross legged and gestured with her hands that all were welcome to join the circle. All but one of the kids were playing with Legos®, but one noticed, and joined the teacher. The teacher shared focus with that one student and said that all were welcome to join and she would repeat that statement, between games, until the other students heard her and joined.

See, we teach the students that we are Improv Ninjas, and an Improv Ninja is always listening, always watching. Since only one Improv Ninja joined her, she started playing a game. The child was thrilled with the individual time with the teacher and eager to excel at the game. Once the child, Milind, learned the first step, the teacher added to the game and increased the difficulty. Prior to starting the second step, she stated loudly that all were welcome to join the group when they were ready. Then she asked the student if he understood why she was repeating her statement. The eager student said “yes, so they can join us”. She then asked if he was okay with continuing if they didn’t join the group, and he nodded his head in agreement enthusiastically.

The other children, stopped and watched with child-like wonder as the teacher and student continued to play. The student continued to accept the offers, and thus the teacher continued to increase the difficulty. The others continued to watch, and the teacher continued to repeat that all were welcome to join at their time.

The teacher taught a few different games to the student, and then expressed that he would have to be her assistant when the others finally join since he such an expert at the games. His smile was ear to ear at this offer. Then one by one, the others joined the two.

One inquisitive little girl, Lola, started to join the teacher and student, while another girl said defiantly, “No, stay here and play”. The teacher then firmly stated, that they could continue to play with the Legos® if you wish, but they can not tell other students what to do. Lola joined the group, then another child, and finally the little girl that said “don’t join them”.

As promised, Milind became the assistant, as the teacher re-taught the others the first three games. Everyone enjoyed learning, and the teacher never raised her voice, or insisted that the students join and start class.

An Improv Ninja is always watching, always listening. It’s not just listening with our ears, but observing the non-verbal things being said in class. Soon the others students became Improv Ninjas like Milind. The teacher didn’t have to force the lesson, the teacher allowed the scene, the story to evolve, accepting the others as they were, letting the class come together as a team, by their choice.

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.

 

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.