Positive Outcomes

From Bill Evans, now a ComedySportz Player with CSz Portland:

I was on the phone with mom on a Sunday evening in early April 2008, lamenting my lack of friends in my new home town, when she reminded me that I had always wanted to take an improv class.

Always began in 1987, in Chicago, when I saw Second City perform a sketch revue during a college visit to Northwestern. That show, and the improvised set that followed, made being on stage look so much fun.

A mere 21 years later, prompted by mom’s gentle reminder, I Googled ‘Portland Improv.’  Serendipitously, I learned that the CSz 101 class began the next night.  With no time to talk myself out of it, I signed up for my introduction to improv.

It was a blast! I didn’t realize it at the time, but the eight-week class was a life-changing experience. There was no ‘eureka’ moment, just two hours each week being present, laughing, exploring and connecting with like-minded people.

When the class ended, I began coming to weekly Minor League Classes, where I met even more people who enjoyed this form of connection. I had found my tribe. Almost instantly, I had a new circle of friends who were not only hilarious, but also agreeable, positive and extremely generous people.

That’s no coincidence. Those are all traits of good improvisers. Turns out these skills, practiced for the sake of good scenes, mold even better people. What a fortuitous turn.  And what a great group of people to help keep my head up during difficult times … my break-up … the loss of a job.  Improv always gave me something to look forward to, even when life was difficult.

How did it change my life? I am a happier, more positive person. I’m rich in friendships. I’m involved in the most satisfying romantic relationship of my life with a like-minded and generous improviser. I’m creatively challenged and I’m living life actively.  Improv has opened so many doors, allowing me the confidence to perform in front of audience, host shows, write and perform stand-up comedy, study sketch writing, teach, perform dinner theater, and write and perform scripted stage shows. I’m probably forgetting something.

All of those personal accomplishments, I dare say, were beyond my wildest dreams six years ago. None could have been achieved without walking into that introductory 101 class hoping to meet new people and have a little fun.

Mission accomplished.

Bill Evans plays ComedySportz. And Hockey. And works in social media and communication. Follow him on Twitter: @bevans10

Improv and Social Media

As more and more people become aware that improvisation has something to bring to companies, the questions start to get more specific.

How do we apply this stuff? How do we justify spending money on improvisation training?

Previous posts have explored:

  • Leadership
  • Employee Engagement
  • Design Thinking
  • Even Sales

Now, a blog piece from social marketer Kelly Jo Horton ties improvisational skills to how companies manage their social media – image, customer service and more.

“You need people who live to find ways to collect, segment and report on data. You obviously need good storytellers. And you need that “secret sauce” that can’t be taught in a college course but comes from life experience and maybe, just maybe, taking an improv class.”

Kelly sums it up with these bullet points:

  • Say. “Yes, and…”
  • Listen to your audience
  • Improv is a 2-way conversation
  • Improv artists fail 20% of the time
  • You are never in complete control

She also gives our organization a nice shout out. Much appreciated. She learned well, and in turn, is teaching people well.

One more thing: to effectively implement the improvisational mindset, you do not have to be a public-performance level improv “artist”. Anyone can think this way – they just need the door opened for them.

Improvisation plays an important role in corporate social media. Read Kelly’s blog piece here.

Patrick Short taught the CSz 101 class that Kelly Jo Horton took 12 years ago. His next class kicks off September 14th, 2015. Many other CSz players have taught her since then in our Minor League classes. CSz is in 25+ cities, and we can find a space for you, too. Find a ComedySportz® City near you. Tweet us @comedysportzPDX.