Why Is Improv So Scary? Part Four: "I'm not outgoing"

cincinnati improv classes

Click here to read the Introduction, Part 1, Part 2 or Part 3. 

Fill in the blanks:

I always end up laughing when I’m with ________.
I love talking about ________.
I’m different from many people in that _________.
One unique thing I bring to a team is _________.
I enjoy spending time with people who are ________.
When choosing friends, I value ________.

Thanks. Now hold onto your answers. We’ll come back to them in a minute.

This week, we’re continuing our discussion of improv-related fears and looking at the next belief that keeps us from saying yes: “I’m not outgoing.”

First off, let’s define an outgoing person so we know what we’re dealing with. Here’s my best attempt: An outgoing person is someone who speaks up frequently, who enjoys socializing and who doesn’t mind being the center of attention.  

In an improv setting, maybe an outgoing person is starting a lot of scenes, entering a lot of scenes and offering a lot of ideas within scenes.

That’s awesome. There’s room for about one person like that on an improv team.

Improv is a team sport. Like other team sports, it requires a special sort of chemistry that allows its members to function as a unit and, in our case, tell stories and plays games without devolving into chaos.

Outgoing people have a place in an improv team. But so do people who are thinkers, observers and listeners. Imagine a football team where every player is Brett Favre. Imagine a band where every member is Kanye West. (On second thought, I’d actually want to see both of those. But you get my drift.)

It should come as no surprise that diversity in personality, experience and perspective will create a better improv team. (Same goes for gender and ethnic diversity.) To enjoy improv, there’s no need to overcome shyness or sensitivity. There is room for your shyness in improv. In fact, there’s a fantastic spot for it right next to that guy doing his loud Gollum/Smeagol impression for the fifth time this hour.

Improv does not require any special type of personality. Improv works best when you lean into the personality you already have.

Now let’s go back your fill-in-the-blanks. I hope your answers show you that even if you don’t fit your own definition of “outgoing,” you still have people you love goofing around with and subjects you can’t shut up about. You have qualities that are unique to you, and they strengthen the teams you join.

Take a look at your last two answers. Did you mention honesty, positivity, open-mindedness, courage, supportiveness or sincerity? If so, improv will help you find people who are trying to foster those qualities in themselves, because all those qualities become our focus when we improvise. (We’re all works in progress. Isn’t that great?)

Okay, one last fill-in-the-blanks. But this time, a madlib.

1. celebrity who is sexy and wonderful: ____________
2. noun that can breathe: ____________
3. body part that matters: ____________
4. adjective you’d use to describe traffic: ____________
5. type of biome: ____________
6. intangible noun: ____________
7. verb: ____________
8. invertebrate: ____________
9. adjective you’d use to describe your drunk mom: ____________
10. adverb: ____________
11. song that my teenage neighbor likes: ____________

I went to my first improv class last night. Me and this guy who kind of reminded me of [celebrity] did a scene about a [noun] with crippling self-doubt because he has a weird [body part]. He goes on a [adjective] journey through the [type of biome] to recover his sense of [intangible noun]. He [verb]s for days before he meets a magical [invertebrate] who tells him that in order to be happy, he must stand up in front of a [adjective] crowd and sing [adverb], just like that one scene from Elf. He goes and finds a crowd and sings [song title], and he is cured of his self-doubt forever.

~ ~ ~

See? You’re gonna be just fine, you handsome and creative devil.

Why Is Improv So Scary? Part Three: "I'll look ridiculous"

cincinnati improv classes

Click here to read the IntroductionPart One, and Part Two

I’ve been staring at a blank Word document for 45 minutes because I have nothing of substance to say.

^^Excellent start to a blog post.

But truly, this week’s subject is a hard one for me. We’re taking a look at our next improv-related fear – “I’ll look ridiculous” – which is the toughest fear to talk about, because there’s absolutely nothing that anyone can say that would talk you out of your fear of looking ridiculous.

Yep. I could end this one right here, but I won’t because I have a lot of videos I want you to watch (see below).

Some people are born without the fear of looking ridiculous. Maybe you’re so good looking that you can drag your butt across the carpet like a dog and people will still think you’re charming (like John Hamm’s 30 Rock character). Maybe you’re blessed with a robust self-image or some selective blindness when it comes to your own flaws. If you’re one of these people, congratulations, now go forth and do some improv with grace and ease.

With that lucky lot out of the way, that leaves the rest of us who were born with a healthy fear of looking stupid and must either shake that fear or live as its slave for the rest of eternity.

This fear isn’t like the fear of being unfunny or the fear of freezing up. Those we can acknowledge and live with. We can’t live with the fear of looking ridiculous because it doesn’t just make us afraid of improv – it makes us afraid of being alive.

As somebody who is afraid of a lot of stuff (ovens, knives, men with beards, semi trucks, spiders, being unlovable, etc.), I know how unhelpful it is to tell someone to “get over” a fear. So I won’t say that. But I will provide you with an exhaustive list of all the reasons we should both let go of our fear of looking ridiculous, as well as a few clips of people looking ridiculous in the best of ways.

 The One and Only Authoritative List of Reasons to Look Ridiculous
(Known henceforth as TOAOALORTLR)

1. Someday you will die. Your hours on this planet are numbered. This is a fact and not me being morbid. Spend your hours learning things and helping people and falling in love. Don’t spend them trying to guess what you look like in other people’s eyes.

2. There will be people who admire you for never looking stupid. They will be profoundly boring people.

3. Every single person who has set a huge goal and accomplished it has been accused of ridiculousness at some point along the way. See: Copernicus, Mamie Phipps Clark, Kathrine Switzer, and many others.

4. You know that moment when you’ve had four glasses of Chardonnay and your inner monologue sounds something like, “I’m going to shake my ass to this beloved Hall and Oates song because I’m happy and free and I don’t care what anybody thinks”? You can actually do that without the Chardonnay and save about $36.

5. When you were around 12 years old, you had a sudden, terrible realization that there is a difference between someone laughing with you and someone laughing at you. That is totally true. You will try something, and certain people will laugh at you. They’ll be there laughing at you when you’re 12 and when you’re 40 and when you’re 86. And then they’ll die and you’ll die. But you will have spent your time on earth trying, instead of laughing at those whose try.

6. There is no actual fallout from looking ridiculous. You will not be taken to jail or tarred and feathered. Take advantage of this free-for-all while it lasts.

7. No matter how much you fret and how hard you try, you will never avoid looking ridiculous. We live in a ridiculous world governed by ridiculous rules and codes. We talk about the weather as if it interests us.  We post photos of our own faces on the Internet and hope that lots of people we know click a “like” button. The Bachelorette is an actual show. And I watch it religiously.

You are ridiculous. I am ridiculous. Resistance is futile. Have some fun.

In conclusion, here are some videos of excellent people looking ridiculous. Please send me any I’ve missed.

Will Ferrell chewing food and spitting it into the mouth of another person.

 

 

Why Is Improv So Scary? Part Two: "I can't think fast enough"

Improv cincinnati classes

Click here to read the Introduction and Part One

Don’t think about your grandpa in the bathtub.

You thought about it, right?

Our powers of association are so strong that once we trip that wire, there’s no going back. (And sorry about your wrinkly, wet, naked grandpa. We can stop thinking about it now.)

Now name me five fake islands in the Pacific Ocean. Right now. Say them out loud.

Okay, why was that one so hard? It was essentially the same exercise as the one about your pruny, sudsy, bare-skinned grandpa. I even said the islands should be fake. You could have said literally anything.

I’ll give you my hypothesis: It’s not because your brain doesn’t work fast enough. It’s because you wanted to say things that sound like they could be island names.

This week, we’re talking about the second most common fear we heard when we asked people why improv is so scary: “I can’t think fast enough.” However, as we’re already starting to see, our fear of being slow might be masking our fear of being wrong. (Kind of like that fear of feeling unfunny could be better described as a fear of feeling shut off or disconnected. A PATTERN EMERGES.)

From the first day we march into kindergarten with our stupid bangs and our brand new red Tommy Hilfiger dress, we learn that there are right answers and wrong answers. We spend about 12 to 16 years of our lives thinking about whether our answers are right or wrong. Which makes sense. Because I don’t want my doctor or my mechanic or my lawyer or my accountant just doing “what feels right.”

But then we can’t turn it off. We’re trapped in a brain that obsessively sorts things into right and wrong. 

This concern about wrongness isn’t limited to school, either. When we embarrass ourselves in a social situation, we say that we “said the wrong thing.” When we turn off our right-and-wrong filter and speak off the cuff, we are penalized with raised eyebrows or uncomfortable silences.

I called my friend Emily Riggin from the small town in Ohio where I grew up to talk about “quick thinking” and why it dissuades people from trying improv. Emily is a professional performer living in Los Angeles. She’s never done improv, but she likes watching it. Here’s a snippet of our conversation:

TH: Describe what is going through your head when you’re struggling to think quickly

ER: It’s trying to figure out what sounds best in a really small amount of time. Does that sound good? Is that going to make sense? Instead of just saying the first thing that comes. I think the control freak in me is trying to make sure everything is concise and works in all situations.

TH: What is the difference between quick thinkers and slow thinkers?

ER: It’s weighing every possible option. For some people, that can be done really quickly. I’m doing that as I talk to you, actually.

TH: Do you notice yourself “thinking slowly” in scenarios other than improv?

ER: If I’m having a serious conversation, I feel like my words aren’t conveying what I want to say. I’m not an in-the-moment type of person. It’s odd. It’s something I’ve noticed these past few years, growing up and being an adult. You have to have serious conversations, and conversations in a professional environment. I have all these good thoughts in my head about what I want to say to someone, and then when they’re in front of me it’s hard to be concise and to repeat those things I was thinking.

TH: Why is it important to be a quick thinker in improv?

ER: It’s supposed to be kind of like a real-life situation. You don’t have time to stop and think about, “What am I going to do next?” And then, on top of that, you have to be funny. If somebody pulls a fast one on you and changes the way your mind thought the situation was going, you have to stop and completely change your thinking. You have to be aware of everything’s that’s going on, and then also put funny stuff on top of it.

TH: What are you usually trying to think of when you catch yourself feeling slow?

ER: That happens if I'm in front of people. But to bring it back to improv, if I had to go onstage with a scenario that got thrown at me three minutes before I went onstage, I would be thinking so hard, I wouldn’t be able to pay attention to the person onstage with me. I’d say something really dumb. That’s what scares me the most about trying improv. You’re just a blank slate.

Emily nailed it when she described improv as a “blank slate.” It’s scary when your ability to pre-plan conversations and scenarios is pulled out from under you.

I also liked how Emily, very honestly, expressed her concern about “what sounds best” and “does that sound good.” It illustrates our awareness that other people are listening, and we don’t want to say the wrong thing.

There’s no easy fix for the fear of saying the wrong thing because it’s part of who we are. It keeps us comfortable and safe in many situations, and it holds us back in many others. Improv serves the very specific function of giving us a space where we can turn off our editors without fear of blank stares or shifting feet. We don’t become more right. But the stakes of being wrong go down. Over time, in that space, with those people, we can start to just say stuff. Our brains have changed. Not to become faster, but to become more confident, more trusting – of ourselves and of others. And eventually, that ability seeps into other areas of our lives.

One of my coworkers uses a saying I love: “There’s no right and wrong in theater. Only boring and interesting.” I think the same goes for improv. It is fun and freeing to think about what interests us, instead of what sounds right to others.

Join us next week to look at another fear, “I’ll look ridiculous,” and to see if Tatum has gotten any better at smiling since her first day of kindergarten.

Level 1 Students: Buy One, Get One Half Off!

improv class cincinnati

Thinking about taking an improv class, but don't want to do it alone? 

Improv Fundamentals students are now eligible to take advantage of a Buy One Get One Half Off offer (BOGO 1/2). Now is your chance to sign up with a friend, family member, co-worker, or anyone who would make a good improv wing man (or woman).

The normal price for one student is $250, so the total BOGO 1/2 off for two students is $375 ($250+$125). Improv Fundamentals classes are 8 weeks. Learn more here.

Offer applies only to Improv Fundamentals. 

Improv is fun, but it's even more fun with a friend!

Register below for Improv Fundamentals with BOGO 1/2 OFF

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New Teachers, New Opportunities

We are proud to announce two new teachers to Coincidence Improv Academy. Please welcome Tracy Connor and Charlie Roetting to the CI team!

Tracy brings decades of experience to Level 4: Character and Status. You might recognize her from the movie Home Alone, but her improv pedigree includes training at Second City, performing as a company member for Impro, teaching locally at Clifton Cultural Arts Center, and using improv as a tool for corporate team building.

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Charlie will be teaching "Level 3: Game of the Scene", which is based on an improv principle popularized by his alma mater Upright Citizens Brigade. He coaches improv at Northern Kentucky University, performs professionally for movies and stage, and teaches/performs with OTRimprov. 

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Why Is Improv So Scary? - Part One: "I'm not funny"

cincinnati improv classes

Hey, everybody. Welcome back to our six-part blog series, eloquently titled, “Why is improv so scary?”

We asked our friends and family what keeps them from trying improv so that we can examine their answers and hopefully learn from them. This week, we’ll look at the statement we heard the most: “I’m not funny.”

It makes sense that this is the most common response. Socially, there’s a premium on being funny. We use satire to discuss politics, religion and even tragedy. Friends on social media get hundreds of “likes” for witty captions and comments. Talented comedians get treated like rock stars.

Being funny (or being perceived as funny) undoubtedly can give you a leg up personally, romantically and professionally. So where does that leave those of us who are just…not funny?

Before we answer that, let’s zero in on the language we’re using here. “Funny” is an imprecise term. It means something different to everyone, and there are no rules about how it can be applied. People’s perception of their own funniness differs sharply along gender lines, and we all know something that’s hilarious to one person might fall completely flat for the next. (If you don’t believe me, watch an episode of South Park with your mom.)

I called my college friend Adrian Hernandez to get some third-party input on the word “funny.” Adrian had replied to my request for improv-related fears, saying that he worries about the pressure to be funny. Here’s the SparkNotes version of our conversation. Pay close attention to what Adrian doesn’t say here.

TH: Define the word “funny.”

AH: Somebody being expressive in a way that’s unique to them. Charismatic people can be perceived as funny, but it’s not necessarily the same thing.

TH: What makes a person funny?

AH: Somebody that’s comfortable with themself. Loose, open, laughing about themself.

TH: What makes a person unfunny?

AH: They’re not authentic. Maybe you can tell that they’re repeating something they heard before. Or they seem distracted or uncomfortable.

TH: Why is it desirable to be funny?

AH: Everybody loves to laugh. Everybody has different ideas of what’s funny, but at the end of the day, everybody finds something funny. Also, people remember a funny person. Everyone wants to feel like people like them, like they’re appreciated, like they’re not alone.

TH: How do you know whether you’re funny?

AH: It’s basically based on the reaction. Did you notice that people treat you better after you make them laugh? Are they more comfortable with you? Did they loosen up? Did they try to make you laugh?

At this point, I wanted to hug Adrian through the phone because he so easily articulated something I was struggling to pinpoint. In our discussion of funniness, not once did Adrian mention jokes. He didn’t mention quick thinking, self-deprecation or acerbic wit, either. He talked about honesty, vulnerability and human connection. And I promise I didn’t pay him to do that.

Adrian used words like “authentic,” “expressive” and “open.” He said people want to be funny because people want to feel “like they’re appreciated, like they’re not alone.”

And there it is.

Our fear of not being funny is not actually about funniness. It’s about our desire to be seen, heard and loved (spoiler: so is everything else in life). And, as Adrian observed, we notice and appreciate people who are open and honest.

Now let’s circle back and apply this to comedy and improv. In a 2010 interview with Tad Friend, comedian and improviser Steve Carell talks about his dislike of “jokey-jokes” and his love of characters with “boneheaded convictions.” Carell’s beloved characters are a testament to this – they aren’t funny because of clever quips or wordplay or sarcasm. They’re funny because they have beliefs that they buy into so wholeheartedly that they make fools of themselves. And everyone loves them for it.

We’re drawn to characters that are sincere because we ache for sincerity in our everyday lives. We’re starving for it.  It takes a lot of effort to get past the small talk and see each other’s dreams and joys and fears, and we usually don’t do it.

There will be plenty of funny people who go for the joke during an improv set, and they will absolutely get a laugh. But there will be other people who stop, take a breath and react honestly. They’ll allow themselves to be afraid, to be in love, to be hopeful, to be hurt. These are the characters an audience recognizes and cares about, and as the improviser commits fully to this character’s desires and convictions in the scene, the laughs will come.

All this goes to say: Forget funny. The more we worry about funny, the less we focus on what makes improv beautiful and uplifting: unflinching, ridiculous honesty. That’s something anyone can do – whether you’re wonderfully wacky or straight as a ruler.

So if you’re waiting for the laughs to come and you hear crickets instead, fill that silence with honesty and love. People will remember that long after you step off the stage.

Join us next week to take a look at our second statement, “I can’t think fast enough,” and to make sure Tatum hasn’t disappeared down the rabbit hole of Steve Carell interviews/peer-reviewed funniness studies.

Click here to read Part Two.

Why Is Improv So Scary?

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You’re in a room full of strangers. It’s so silent you can hear the air conditioning coming through the vent above your head. You and some guy whose name you can’t remember stand up and walk to the front of the room. Your task is to be funny while everyone watches.

You can’t stop to think or ask questions. Everyone stares, waiting, expecting wit and hilarity. Their eyes start to spin like kaleidoscopes as the floor opens up and you fall into a dark pit. As your eyes adjust, you see your stepfather, reclining in an overstuffed chair. His voice echoes into eternity, “You’re not funny.”

Okay, now try this one:

You’re in a room full of people who want to be friends with you. It’s completely silent because everyone is listening to what you have to offer. You and that guy who asked about your favorite movies walk to the front of the room. Your task is to play pretend.

There’s no need to stop or ask questions. You know that everything you say is the right thing, and you agree with everything your partner says. You use your imagination without feeling silly or embarrassed, and for a couple of hours, you turn off that voice in your head that tells you you’re not good enough.

In improv, as in life, perspective is everything. As people who perform, teach and love improv, we view improv as something that brings us joy, friendships and clarity. But we talk to a lot of people who don’t share our perspective. Not only that, we remember how scared we were when we tried improv for the first time.

That brings us to the questions we’ll attempt to tackle in this blog series: Why the hell is improv so scary? What keeps us stuck in that first scenario when we’d rather be in the second one? What happens to us during puberty that makes it so hard to play pretend? (On second thought, you should probably just Google that one.) 

In this six-part series, we’ll examine six common anxieties surrounding improv:

·      “I’m not funny”

·      “I can’t think fast enough”

·      “I’ll look ridiculous”

·      “I’m not outgoing”

·      “I don’t trust my fellow improvisers”

·      “I don’t really understand what improv is”

We chose these anxieties based on responses from real people. Our goal is to drag these thoughts out of scary-subconscious-land and into the light so that we can understand them better. While we won’t be able to get banish hesitancy and fear from our brains, we’ll at least be able to look it in the eye and give it the middle finger.

As improv-lovers, we’ve seen how the skills we gain in improv help us combat unhealthy fear in our everyday lives. In an improv classroom, we play characters who are honest, we turn off our internal editors and we relinquish the need to feel cool. Nothing scary about becoming more honest and vulnerable, right? (WRONG.) It only makes sense that our brains dig in their heels when we think about improv. However, we really, really, 100 percent believe that the benefits of improv are worth that initial leap of faith.

Whether you’re a veteran improviser or you’re considering sticking your toe in the water, we hope this series helps you recognize your anxieties, understand them and do some improv anyway. We’d love to hear your feedback and thoughts as we address these six statements together.

Cheers to the power and creativity within all of us,

Improv Cincinnati

Click here to read Part One - "I'm Not Funny"

Improv Masters Jacob Compton and Paul Barker Visit Cincinnati

Jon and I toured the east coast this past winter, where we performed with acquaintances in Baltimore and DC. On a whim, we planned a jaunt up to Pennsylvania's capitol city to visit Harrisburg Improv Theatre. HIT started as a question mark in our minds and ended as an exclamation in our hearts. Jacob Compton and Paul Barker have proven that a thriving improv community and theatre can be sustained in a small city.  

Compton and Barker are now taking a tour of their own. They'll perform with Love Square at Clifton Performance Theatre on Saturday May 20th. The next morning, they'll teach a workshop on using Point of View to launch yourself into scenes with strong characters. Both improvisers are well known at home for their show "Missed Connections", an improvised performance inspired by Craigslist personals.

Paul Barker is a graduate of the three big improv theatres in New York: UCB, Magnet, and PIT. He now performs in the Friday night show at Magnet. Jacob Compton studied at UCB and Magnet, and now teaches and produces at Harrisburg Improv Theatre.  

Point-of-View Workshop
Sunday 5/21 , 3-5pm @ Dramakinetics
$20
Learn more here or sign up below to register: 

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New Classes, Roger Schuster Scholarship, and offering your expertise...

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Classes are Live

We are pleased to share the next round of Level 1 classes are now LIVE and will kick off in late May. Learn more about them here.

Roger Schuster Improv Scholarship

For those not in a financial position to afford classes, consider applying for the Roger Schuster Improv Scholarship.

Roger was our former student and the very definition of kindness, gentleness, and passion. His passing was a major blow to the Cincinnati improv community. To honor him and to continue his legacy, Coincidence Improv and OTRimprov have co-created the Roger Schuster Improv Scholarship. The scholarship is designed to help provide access to classes for improv enthusiasts who may be financially prevented from taking classes otherwise. The scholarship will be provided to one student per round of classes for each organization.

To apply for this scholarship, answer the following questions (100 words max per each):

1. What is your experience with improv? Why do you want to take classes?
2. What makes you a good member to have as part of an improv group? 
3. How do you embody Roger’s traits of kindness, enthusiasm, and compassion?

Email your responses to rogerschusterimprovscholarship@gmail.com by May 23 to be considered for the upcoming Level 1 classes. You can also email any questions you may have to that address. 

Roger was such a wonderful person, and it's truly a privilege to honor his legacy. Thanks to Kelly M. for leading this process as well as to the wonderful folks at OTRimprov. 

You can read more about the first award winner here: http://www.coincidenceimprov.com/blog/2017/2/1/roger-schusters-legacy

We Want You! 

As a small but growing program, we are seeking expertise, time, and help. If you are in a position to contribute in return for free classes, please reach out. We'd love to have the discussion. 

Apply for Roger Schuster Improv Scholarship

Roger shown center.

Roger shown center.

Roger Schuster was an example of kindness, gentleness, and passion for all of us. To honor him and continue his legacy, Coincidence Improv and OTRimprov are working together to create the Roger Schuster Improv Scholarship, which is designed to help provide access to classes for improv enthusiasts who may be financially prevented from taking classes otherwise. The scholarship will be provided to one student per round of classes for each organization.

To apply for this scholarship, answer the following questions (100 words max per each):

1. What is your experience with improv? Why do you want to take classes?
2. What makes you a good member to have as part of an improv group? 
3. How do you embody Roger’s traits of kindness, enthusiasm, and compassion?

Email your responses to rogerschusterimprovscholarship@gmail.com by March 14 to be considered for the upcoming Level 1 classes. You can also email any questions you may have to that address. 

Roger was such a wonderful person, and it's truly a privilege to honor his legacy. Thanks to Kelly M. for leading this process as well as to the wonderful folks at OTRimprov. Roger would really have gotten a kick out of this :)

You can read more about the first award winner here: http://www.coincidenceimprov.com/blog/2017/2/1/roger-schusters-legacy

Please feel free to share this with any friends/family who may be interested

Springfield Township - Improv Workshop

Residents of Sprinfield Township -- a fun-filled improv workshop is coming to you on Wednesday, March 1st!

Why try improv in the first place? 

  • It's ridiculously fun
  • Try something new and different
  • Stretch your comfort zone
  • Make new friends with similar interests
  • Build confidence
  • Learn to feel more comfortable in front of a crowd
  • Cultivate your creative side
  • Give yourself a burst of positivity
  • Exercise your brain

Roger Schuster's Legacy

When Roger Schuster first discovered he had cancer, OTRimprov rallied behind him with an extraordinary fundraiser. It was inspiring to see that someone who loved improv had so many improvisers who loved him back. I never forgot the kindness and empathy OTRimprov showed him during a time when he and his family needed all the support they could get.

I knew Roger best when he became a student at Coincidence Improv Academy. Roger took as many classes as he could manage, and I would give him rides to and from class. Despite his deteriorating condition, Roger had unwavering enthusiasm for improv. He came to every class showcase, even when he wasn't feeling well enough to perform with his fellow students. His love for class reaffirmed my belief that the art of long form improv has a lasting and transformational impact on those who study it.  The Cincinnati improv community lost a dear friend when Roger passed away in late December 2016. 

Roger's legacy will be remembered in the form of a scholarship shared by Coincidence and OTRimprov. The Roger Schuster Improv Scholarship will cover the registration fee for one student each round of classes. Winners are selected based on an application process. The first scholarship recipient for Coincidence is Amanda Monyhan, who is currently taking Improv Fundamentals. She has generously shared reflections on what it's meant to her:

I feel super blessed to receive the Roger Schuster scholarship. It has allowed me to play, express and expand my imagination once a week with an entire class of hilarious and supportive new friends. It has not only expanded my understanding of improv but has connected me to a feeling of happiness and confidence in my daily life that I was not quite expecting. Simply amazing. I am excited for future learning and growing as an improv actor and it's role in my life as a mixed media performer and artist.  
 
If you would like to donate to the Roger Schuster Scholarship, consider attending the "F*CK Cancer Show" this Friday night at the KNOW Theatre at 10:45 pm. Proceeds from the show will go to the Jimmy V Foundation, an organization dedicated to funding scientific research toward a cure for cancer.
We miss you, buddy.
- Colin Thornton

SkillSets: Mindfulness - January 27th

Friday January 27th from 7pm - 9pm $20
"Staying in the Moment
": Melissa Fenton

In this class, Melissa will walk you through techniques to become more aware of the details of each moment, opening your mind and body to be more responsive in both life and the context of improv.  Minute by minute, day by day, we have the opportunity to notice, accept, and embrace what's happening before our very eyes and within.  As we practice, we become more skilled at not only identifying reality, but engaging with it in a more vibrant, dynamic, and effortless way.

Melissa is an LA-based meditation teacher with roots in Cincinnati.  She was introduced to meditation five years ago under the tutelage of teacher Jessica Graham of the Eastside Mindfulness Collective, and was inspired over the years to teach this invaluable practice to others.  Her passion for young people led her to train with The Mindful Schools, and she is currently in the process of achieving a certificate in Mindful Educator Essentials so that she can pursue opportunities to teach mindfulness to youth.  In her adult classes, she focuses on techniques that are "restorative" in tone, honing in on practices that encourage relaxation, calming of the nervous system, and self-love.  You can find her Facebook Live class, "Nurture", coming soon on Tuesday nights at 7 p.m.Pacific Standard time (or for East Coasters, just scroll through her feed.).



Register for the SkillSets Workshop below...

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Apply for Roger Schuster Improv Scholarship

 
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Roger shown center

 

As shared on the Cincinnati Improviser's Guild:

"The Cincy improv community recently lost someone dear. Roger Schuster was an example of kindness, gentleness, and passion for all of us. To honor him and continue his legacy, Coincidence Improv and OTRimprov are working together to create the Roger Schuster Improv Scholarship, which is designed to help provide access to classes for improv enthusiasts who may be financially prevented from taking classes otherwise. The scholarship will be provided to one student per round of classes for each organization.

To apply for this scholarship, answer the following questions (100 words max per each):

1. What is your experience with improv? Why do you want to take classes?
2. What makes you a good member to have as part of an improv group? 
3. How do you embody Roger’s traits of kindness, enthusiasm, and compassion?

Email your responses to rogerschusterimprovscholarship@gmail.com by March 14 to be considered for the upcoming Level 1 classes. You can also email any questions you may have to that address. 

Please feel free to share this with any friends/family who may be interested!"

Roger was such a wonderful person, and it's truly a privilege to honor his legacy. Thanks to Kelly M. for leading this process as well as to the wonderful folks at OTRimprov. Roger would really have gotten a kick out of this :)

Update: You can read more about the first award winner here: http://www.coincidenceimprov.com/blog/2017/2/1/roger-schusters-legacy

Upcoming SkillSets Workshops: Chicago Style Improv

Second City's touring company is in town doing a seasonal revue at Playhouse in the Park. If you haven't seen "Holidazed and Confused", you should check it out. If you're too poor, it's Second City's tradition to offer a free third set after their mostly written show. The free set is entirely improvised and is bursting with joyful energy.

Second City is known for being smartly satirical, and for casting some of the most talented comedic actors in the entertainment industry: Tina Fey, Keegan Michael Key, Steve Carrell, etc. They have three main stage companies, three touring companies, multiple cruise ship companies, and a vast network of training centers. Every Second City show also features a brilliant musical accompanist.

If you're interested in this style of improv, you will want to attend the next workshops on Saturday December 17th. These are special workshops being offered by members of the touring company cast (not officially by Second City).

Amy Thompson and Tyler Davis will teach "Improvisational Scene Writing" based on the Second City style of creating written scenes based on improvisations. This way of generating material has been the method used by Second City for over 50 years. This workshop starts at 10 am and only costs $20.

Brian Heveron-Smith will teach "Musical Improv", a class on how to create scenes that incorporate songs with an accompanist. "Emphasis will be placed on performers finding and maintaining strong character objectives as they use music to heighten the emotional stakes of the scene. Improvisers of all levels are welcome, and no previous musical ability or training is necessary!" This workshop starts at 1pm and is also only $20.

You can take both workshops for $35. Register below...

Name *
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CIA Booster Classes On 11/30 and 12/15

Itching for more improv classes during the break between sessions? CIA will happily scratch that itch because we are offering Drop-In Booster Classes on Wednesday November 30th and Thursday December 15th. 

The Boosters are pay-what-you-can per session. Instructors will lead you through some grounded scene work in the montage format, and will give personalized feedback and coaching. Don't worry... fun and games will also be on the menu... including some new games that you haven't previously encountered in class. 

Want to sign up? Go to our Classes page and scroll to the bottom. Hope to see you soon!

Upcoming SkillSets Workshop

Coincidence Improv is thrilled to welcome Chandler Stevens as the guest instructor for the next SkillSets Workshop on Posture and Persona on October 22nd. Chandler is an expert in natural movement and somatic education. He has a demonstrated sense of physical intelligence and a keen awareness of body mechanics and movement. He is the type of fitness trainer who can analyze the way you move, identify mobility and flexibility problems,and set you on a path to awareness of your natural body movement.

But what does this have to do with improv?

A good improviser is a curious improviser. Curiosity is the fuel for character inspiration. A curious improviser will be much more successful at observing and mimicking how people move, how people behave, how people talk, etc.

In the body language book "What Every Body is Saying", the author tells the story of Desmond Morris, a man who categorized the movements and behaviors of people and cultures. Of note, he categorized 40 (forty!) different styles of walking. Do you know the 40 styles of walking? Would that be helpful in generating characters? You bet it would.

Check out what Desmond Morris has to say about movement and behavior that he has observed around the world...

Before you can start putting on the "costume" of other characters, adapting the movements that you observe in humans, you must first understand your own limitations. What is your base line? What are your bad habits for body mechanics? These are the questions that Chandler Stevens will help you identify and fix.

After Chandler's instruction, we will rehearse long form improv with the goal of concentrating on body and posture. Deliberate practice makes perfect!

Learn more and register here!