I'm a mom, nurse, technically "middle aged" woman and Michael Gellman is teaching me Improvisational Comedy at Second City, Chicago. Pinch me. Make it hurt.
As I told Godman at last week's class, Improv has been "the most fun I've had in my adult life." His quick response: 'The most fun in your adult life? ... Are you dating??'
These classes are a gift, really. I started "Improv for Beginners" at Second City last year. For fun. Because my life was in crisis and something made me Google "Second City + classes." Boxed wine made me sign up. The fun I had with Improv made me sign up for Standup. Standup pushed me past fear, through terror and into strength. Possibly delusion. Hot holy Hell, y'all -- I did five minutes in front of 70+ people. And got laughs. Suck it, shyness.
Michael Gellman reminds me of my Dad, but with extra cussing. Humorous bordering on brilliantly hilarious, intuitive bordering on uncanny, foul-mouthed bordering on George Carlin. Is this Heaven?
Wait. What? I signed up for what?? I'm not a theater major, as most of my classmates are. Hell, I have two degrees (Journalism and Nursing) and barely use either. I'm a mostly stay-at-home Mom who subs as a School Nurse. I'm shy by nature, have no idea what 'real acting' is, and never set foot on a stage before this (except as a Dogpatcher in a riveting Middle School production of "Li'l Abner"). I don't know how far I can go with this, but that's not the point.
What I know is that Improv has changed my life. It pushed me out of my comfort zone. It taught me to be in the moment. It made me trust my sense of humor.
I've made many great acquaintances and one cherished friend. I've laughed harder and more often than I have in many, many years.
Why is that? In Improv, there is no judgement, no saying "No." The mantra is "Say 'Yes' and the fun will follow." Yes to everything. Accept, agree, trust, release, surrender. On stage, it works. It works better than saying no, or contradicting, or negating. It moves the scene forward. It creates a positive vibe felt not only by the players but also the audience. Negativity and criticism kills. It's "death by a thousand cuts," in my experienced opinion. In Improv and Life.
It's about relinquishing the need to control, to micromanage, to keep the focus on yourself. Fuck that shit. Focus on your partner. Focus on what's happening RIGHT NOW. What is your partner SAYING? What are they DOING? What is your RELATIONSHIP?
Yes, it's Improvisational Theater. It's also Life. Stop the Movie In Your Head. Look at who you're communicating with. Listen to them. Watch their body language. Appreciate how they are different from you. Appreciate them.
Appreciate who you are. Be aware of how you move through space. Listen to your voice as you speak. Look at yourself in the mirror. Be aware of what you're feeling at this moment.
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