You may have seen this on my Instagram, but last week I completed UCB's improv 101 class. Upright Citizens Brigade was a sketch comedy show created by Amy Poehler, Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, and Matt Walsh. It ran on Comedy Central from 1998-2000. During the success of the show they opened a sketch and improv training center in New York which they later expanded to Los Angeles.
I feel very lucky that I live within walking distance of this awesome school. For the last year I had been thinking about how it would be fun to take an improv class. I saw a live show of the Lady to Lady podcast at the UCB Sunset theater and was drawn to the space. In January I finally decided to sign up.
The first class I was super nervous. I had never done anything like this. As a dancer I am used to expressing myself, but generally through movement and rarely using my voice. I was super lucky to discover that my class was full of the nicest most supportive people I could hope to work with. My teacher Marissa Strickland was fantastic and so supportive.
The work was so much different than the world of ballet I know so well. In the ballet world you come expected to know exactly what you are going to do. You rehearse for hours and hours, perfecting the same steps over and over. In improv comedy you don't know what's in store and must present yourself as a blank book and write the story as you go. It's very scary to be that vulnerable, but even the beginner scenes we created I felt were something to be proud of.
Like for ballet, I tried to clear my mind and prepare my thoughts before I went to class. I also found my years of physical movement helped me to physically embody a character.
On Easter Sunday we held our class performance. We were all pretty nervous, but it went amazingly well. We all supported each other in the scenes, responded with "yes, and", and were able to get some laughs from a pretty full audience.
I definitely plan on taking more classes in the near future!
If you are curious to check out UCB I highly recommend going to one of their shows. They have shows 7 days a week, a lot of times for only $5! Their performers are incredible artists and it's really wonderful to see how they work. If you live in or plan on visiting New York or Los Angeles I would highly recommend making time to see a show!