If you head over to the Schedule page of Konkdaddy, you’ll notice that the next few Tuesdays are booked up with something called “Steel City Improv.” It should be noted that there is a difference between the Pittsburgh Improv and the Steel City Improv. One is a comedy club, the other is a comedy class.
That’s right ladies and gentleman, I’m going back to school.
I’m a big believer of taking time off to sharpen the axe. I’ve been feeling a little dull on stage recently so I’m going to try to broaden my horizons in the hopes of stumbling into new territory. This belief has led me to Steel City Improv, a 4-week class that teaches the basics of short and long-term improvisation. Most people think of improv as “Who’s Line is It Anyway” type games, but most of the current comedy landscape is absolutely dominated by people filtering through the improv system. Steven Colbert, Tina Fey, Steve Carrell, Mike Myers, and Amy Poehler all came to stardom through prestigious improv groups like the Groundlings, Second City or the Upright Citizen’s Brigade. My hope is not to tread the improv comedy path, but rather use what I learn in this class to build my stand-up further.
One criticism that I’ve always had of my comedy is that I tend to stick to the script. I physically write out every single bit and try to memorize it down to the last word. So in a sense it becomes more like a play than stand-up. I don’t think I’ll ever abandon pre-written jokes as the base of my act. However, I do think that I could be helped tremendously with a little bit of confidence going off the cuff. Do I need an $80 improv class for that? Probably not. I could just say that I’m going to go up on stage with no jokes whatsoever and fly by the seat of my pants. But I find I’m most likely to complete a goal when I pay someone else to set that goal for me. Therefore, this is the best option for me to actually get this done.
The other daunting part about improv comedy (and the reason many stand-ups don’t make the transition so well) is that I need to be selfless on the stage that I share with other performers. I have to be able to let someone else get the laugh. I have to be able to pass up an easy joke if it jeopardizes the scene. I have to let someone else take the glory. I have to not be a whiny baby about those first three things. This is a difficult task for someone who is used to operating alone. I am, after all, a coyote on the desert ridge of laughter. I don’t share my meat with nobody no how! (cue sound of spit landing in a spittoon)
I’ll try to keep everyone updated with how it’s going. I’ll be devoting myself to phrases like “Yes, and…”, “No questions,” and “Sir, you’ll get the most out of this class if you stop checking Facebook.” Progress. Onward and upward.
Now…can I get a suggestion from the audience?