This Is All Improvised.

I’ve done enough improv classes now that I’m starting to feel like an old-hand at it, even though I can still count the number of classes I’ve taken on one hand. Recently I went to one at a local library that was the smallest one so far: there were only four of us, including the moderator, who’s a teacher and organizer with the Nashville Improv. It was fun but with only four people it felt like the pressure was on, and since most of the games involved two people at a time it also felt like there was never enough of an audience. Of course as soon as I say that I think of Whose Line Is It Anyway? with its four performers, but, first of all, they generally knew each other and worked together professionally, and they had a moderator—I won’t choose between Clive Anderson and Drew Carey since I think that’s like comparing apples and pineapples—and a large audience.

Because this group was so small any time I wasn’t participating I was trying to be focused and supportive and, in spite of one of the main rules of improv being “don’t overthink it” I was quietly sitting there overthinking what I might do if I had to jump in and say, “Yes, and…”

I’ve also done an improv class with a group of seven, which seemed like a much more comfortable number, even when we did some group games that involved everyone. And then there was the time I did an improv class with at least twenty people. We started out sitting in a circle in folding chairs and each introduced ourselves. A guy who was two chairs away from me said, “I’m Greg, I work as a waiter, and I also sell drugs.” When it was my turn I said, “I’m Chris, I’m an undercover cop and I’ve been following Greg.”

He got what seemed like a genuinely panicked look—did he really think I’d just blown my cover?—and so I quickly switched to, “but seriously…”

A group that large seemed a bit much, and while the leader did have some group games that involved everyone I’d say seven is close to the minimum for an ideal group, with fourteen being the upper limit, just from my experience.

While I enjoyed this latest one that jumbled looking sign on the floor made me laugh before I even went in because it looked so sketchy. I sent it to a friend who replied, “Holy cats, are you sure that’s not a trap?”

I didn’t know what to say to that so I said, “Yes, and…?”

Since it’s all about sharing and communication what are your experiences with improv?

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  1. mydangblog

    I’d love to do an improv class but as several family members have told me, “I’m not that funny in person.” But your quick line to Greg was amazing–I’d happily do improv with people like you!
    mydangblog recently posted…Making A ListMy Profile

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Wait, family members have said you’re not funny in person? I find that hard to believe–some of your stories make you sound like a really funny person and, as the late, great Steve Allen said, a comedian is not someone to whom funny things happen but someone who sees ordinary things in a funny way. By that definition you are a comedian. It helps that you also have some funny things happen to you but you’re able to recognize the humour because you’re funny.


    Chris, I’m improvising this comment: 8 is considered the ideal number for a therapy group. Also, I have to do a little improv for my upcoming concert and that is scaring me. I’ll try not to overthink it.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I think it’s the scariness of improv that attracts some people. And something tells me that you’ll handle the improv part of the concert just fine. Even if you get stuck you can just say, “Yes, and…here’s another song!”


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