Have you ever thought about taking an improv class or workshop but you weren’t really sure if it was for you? More and more people are taking improv these days for a whole bunch of reasons other than getting on Saturday Night Live.
Improv is about more than being silly. In fact, the principles you learn in improv can actually be beneficial in your life.
So if you’ve never taken an improv class or workshop before, here are the top 10 benefits of taking an improv class.
- It Helps You Make Friends
Most people who take an improv class or workshop get to feel closer to the people who are in their class, and sometimes they make friends that last a lifetime. It just happens, due to the nature of the games, exercises and the philosophy of improvisation. If we know it or not, when we improvise with others, we are exposing a little piece of ourselves, we are being vulnerable, and we are being authentic – all of which is a great breeding ground for making meaningful friendships.
- It Teaches You to Be More Mindful
Doing improv requires you to be in the moment, because instead of pre-planning what you are going to say to make yourself sound funny, you have to respond to the last thing that just happened – and if you aren’t paying attention, it’s easy to miss. That is what mindfulness is all about — focusing on what you are doing in the moment. There’s a lot of talk these days about the benefits of being mindful, but if you’re interested in actually experiencing being mindful rather than just reading about it theory, I can’t think of a better way to practice than by trying improv.
- It Helps You Find Time To Play
When was the last time you just played? If you were to answer this honestly, you would probably say years ago. As adults, we need to play — for our survival, for our sanity, for our mental health. So many of us are driven, goal-orientated people rushing from one thing to the next all in the name of getting ahead. We stress out about our jobs, our finances, and what’s going on in this crazy world. Improv can be oasis of play and we all need more of that in our lives, even if only for a of couple hours a week.
- It Helps You Not Take Yourself So Seriously
I cannot think of a more unattractive trait than someone who takes themselves too seriously. We all think we are important, but when we start to take ourselves too seriously, we lose our sense of our humanness and our sense of humor at the same time, making us difficult to be around. Ten minutes into your first improv class when you are playing a “silly” game like zip zap zup, you’ll realize that taking yourself too seriously in improv is not going to work – and that’s a good thing.
- It Helps You Take Risks
When people first start out in my improv classes they are terrified. They think they are going to be humiliated and embarrassed. In fact, that is number one reason people don’t take improv in the first place. On day one, people are often reluctant to take any risks and are just worried about self preservation. That soon goes away after they start building trust in the group. Soon, people who were shy at the beginning start making big, bold choices all over the place. They start laughing and having a good time, and they’re not even aware they are taking risks. And all of that risk taking in class often translates into being more comfortable taking risks in the outside world too, from being more confident speaking in front of a group to becoming more comfortable sharing your ideas and more.
- It Teaches You How to Go With the Flow
Listen up control freaks, this is for you. Improv forces you to drop your so-called brilliant agenda and go with what is presented. Pre-planning what you are going to say and trying to control others will not work in this spontaneous art form. So, the next time you’re out in the real world and things don’t go according to your plan, instead of being devastated, you’ll start to improvise. You’ll be more comfortable going with the flow, and sometimes, you’ll realize that things actually end up better than if everything would have gone according to your plan.
- It Makes You a Better Listener
We all need to talk less and listen more. When we really listen to others, we are able to connect with them on a deeper level, and people feel more respected and heard. By learning how to shut up and really listen to others, we can improve all of our relationships, in business and in life.
- It Makes You More Creative
Improv will teach how to be more collaborative in everything you do, and being open to other people ideas will lead you to being more creative. It also teaches you how to be less judgmental of your own thoughts, which can help creativity flow as well. (For more ways it helps with creativity, read my blog from last week).
- It Builds Confidence
I’ve taught improv to pregnant teenage mothers, preschoolers, real estate executives, actors, design students and more. And they all had the same results: Improv gave each person a newfound confidence in how they interacted in the world.
- It Will Make You a Kinder Person
In improv, we are a taught that this is a team sport, and we are taught to make the other person look good. Before we go up on stage, we say things to each other like “We’ve got your back.” Improv is an artform that is based on agreement, and that spirit of working together can spill over into our lives and truly make us kinder human beings.Interested in trying improv? Sign up for Jimmy’s Art of Slow Comedy Level 1 Class, starting Feb. 26. Save $30 when you register by Feb. 12!