A Little About Your Blogger (Especially Pre-CSz)

A savvy blogger writes a few entries in advance in case one day he doesn't have time or inspiration to create a fresh entry.  Today is one of those days.  Instead of any insights of debatable value, you get to learn a little about me, also information of debatable value...

How long have you been performing improv?  Where did you perform before CSz and ComedySportz?

EXTEMPORARY INSANITY SANS ALISON LEINBACH THE PHOTOGRAPHER

EXTEMPORARY INSANITY SANS ALISON LEINBACH THE PHOTOGRAPHER

I’ve been performing improv since 1995.  I started taking improv classes on a whim while living in San Diego.  My co-worker Cheryl suggested I might enjoy an improv class.  She reasoned that since I was similar in personality to her then husband Billy, and Billy had enjoyed the class, I would as well.  She was right (though perhaps Billy might have enjoyed it more.  He and Cheryl eventually divorced mutually, and Billy ended up happily married to my fellow student Cindy).  My instructor was the wonderful Jacquie Lowell, and my first group was called Extemporary Insanity.  We did exactly one show.  I still have the t-shirt somewhere in the mad labyrinth of old possessions known as the garage.  

A little over a year into improv I joined San Diego TheatreSports.  While there were a few decent folks there, and I had the opportunity to learn a lot, the group was horribly mismanaged.  After one especially egregious (yes, that bad I’m skirting with verbal redundancy) misstep, I and some other members left to form our own group, the Subatomic Jenkins Clan.  We had a lot of fun performing shows with special themes, e.g., physics, a television schedule, interpretations of the word flat, and more.

In 1999 I joined the original team for what was then ComedySportz San Diego, now the National Comedy Theater.  It was an awesome experience but I’m sad that NCT left the CSz/ComedySportz family for good in 2000 (a story for another day).  In January 2001 I moved to the Bay Area and joined CSz San Jose, where I performed for over seven years.  NCT and CSz San Jose are actually run by brothers, Gary and Jeff Kramer, respectively.  Both brothers treated me exceptionally well, taught me a lot, and provided  friendship (in a weird coincidence we had actually all grown up about 20 minute apart in the northeast); I will always be in gratitude.

What types of improv do you perform?  What are some of your favorite improv types or games?  What are some of your least favorite?

I enjoy performing all types of improv.  I’ve probably performed an 90-10 mix of short form to long form, but that’s been more out of opportunity than design.  Over the years I’ve come to really enjoy playing certain audience volunteer games, especially Four Square.  I definitely miss musical improv a lot; we haven’t had a regular keyboard player in some time.  I especially like creating new exercises, short form games, and long form formats.  And I am very interested in Applied Improv, i.e., using improv for training, team building, skills development, design thinking, etc.  I’ll be posting more about Applied Improv soon.

On the flip side, close friends and team members know I personally have no particularly fondness for the Harold (ironically I watched three yesterday).  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it per se.  I just think there are so many more interesting and entertaining formats.  I actually enjoy both playing and watching pattern based improv.  But I prefer it through other long form formats.