Back to School!

Across the country, students are preparing to return to school after Labor Day weekend. Here in Georgia, we’ve been back in school for weeks. At Automatic Improv, we are getting closer to our next round of level one improv classes beginning Sunday, September 9th. I’ll be the teacher of the next level one and am already excited. New improv classes always remind me of my very first improv class. I had such a good time at that one class that I’m still doing improv six years later and am writing this blog for you now. To celebrate the start of a new session, I asked various automatic members and students to share their first improv class experience. To start us off, here’s mine:

“I had no idea what to expect from my first class but was told to wear comfortable shoes and to “be ready to have fun!” I showed up to my first class at ImprovBoston and we all introduced ourselves. In my class were: 3 empty-nester moms, one ac-TOR honing his craft (all his words. I think he faked a British accent?), a German foreign-exchange student hoping to learn more English, and a blind woman. Our teacher was clearly an improvisational genius because he managed to adapt games that rely heavily on visual cues for our particular class’ needs. If you’ve never played “Go” with a blind person, you’re really missing out. The end result of this one two-hour class was that for the week between my first class and my second class, I taught everyone I knew how to play the goofy improv games we learned that day. The first game we played remains my favorite improv warm-up game to this very moment. I’ll be sure to teach it on September 9th!”

From Jan, Automatic Improv member and life-long lover of improvisation:
“I guess what probably constitutes my first improv “class” was in the 7th grade. A friend of mine, Corey Doerr, invited me to join his Destination Imagination extracurricular group. A couple awesome moms taught us improv based on some college theatre classes they’d taken, books they’d read (including Impro for Storytellers – yeah, THAT worked out), and whatever they thought might help (moms are awesome). The six other members (we were all guys, of course), plus a couple folks who dropped in and out over the next few years, became my best friends through high school. We grew up learning how to make each other and others laugh. Learning improv skills at such an early age did wonders for my confidence and it, obviously, irrevocably changed the course of my life. Here I am, more than a decade later… still doing it!”

From Andy, Automatic Improv member who is still so freaking pumped it’s ridiculous:
“I was so freaking pumped it was ridiculous. We started the class by having everybody say where they were from and what they wanted to learn. We then began doing a series of extremely fun shenanigans. I got to know some super amazing people that are friends I still keep close contact with till this day. It was the best decision I ever made to take my first improv class.”

From Sarah, Automatic Improv member and somehow not the most profane person in this blog:
“In my first Improv class we were told by our Instructor (Tommy Futch) that we weren’t allowed to cuss or “be dirty” in any of our warm-ups or scenes. I remember thinking “how am I going to be funny?” While I’m still one of the dirtiest (if not the dirtiest) Improvisor in Automatic Improv; I learned that it’s not needed to have a really hilarious scene.”

From Robert, Automatic Improv student and reluctant self-improver:
“Damn you, Automatic Improv. Who says I needed to meet kick ass cool people? What gives you the right to give me the tools to be even more successful in my career? Where do you get off giving me a safe, supportive atmosphere that I used to be a better me? Why am I asking questions when I know better? Damn you, Automatic Improv!”

From Kevin, Automatic Improv member who is free to be you and me:
“As kids, everyone knows how to just play, but for some reason when we grow up, we forget. We’re so busy being adults, we forget how to have fun. That’s what my first improv class taught me. It’s OK to play.

Feel free to have fun!”

From Bill, Automatic Improv member and generally enthusiastic person:
“My first improv class blew. my. mind. I was on an “improv high” for days, and immediately taught my friends, family, and anyone else who would listen how to do “word-at-a-time” stories and “Zip-zap-zop”. There’s something about cutting completely loose with a group of people who all support you that unlocked aspects of my personality that were buried for a long time. My enthusiasm was spilling out my ears. I caught the bug, hard. Luckily, there is no cure I’m aware of.”

From Ronnie, Automatic Improv member voted ‘Most Playful’:
“I remember being so nervous about taking an improv class that I was shaking in the car on the way over. As soon as we all got up and acted silly with one another it felt a lot better. We were all just having fun and playing like we were kids again. I love to play!”

From John, Automatic Improv former student and current member who was not paid for this glowing endorsement:
“When I arrived at Relapse Theatre for my first class with Automatic Improv, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I was excited, and very eager. I stood in the lobby, a ball of nervous energy, introducing myself to and shaking hands with literally everyone that walked by. I imagine that it must’ve been a pretty weird scene: some guy just pacing around the lobby shaking hands with everyone, seemingly for no reason. Even though I may have startled a few people, everyone was incredibly nice and welcoming. That sense of community and inclusion you get at Relapse Theatre with Automatic Improv Classes is just the best, and it all starts from day one!”

From the last crop of Level 1 students, proving a picture is worth a thousand words:

Be this happy in your first improv class. Check out and learn all about the classes offered. I’ll be there! I can’t wait!


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