(by Paul Burke) The first time I stepped into an improv class was February 2004. I had no idea what to expect. I had always been anxious in new situations, but I figured it was as good a time as any to come out of my shell. I knew that improv was the way to do that… and I was right.

I have been consistently performing improv comedy for the last decade. It’s one of my favorite things to do and my favorite subject to discuss! When we started Blacktop Comedy in Roseville, CA, I wanted to create a place where people could see great improv shows and where people could take a class and learn the benefits of adding more YES into their lives. Improv has made me a stronger and more flexible person, it has helped me in every aspect of my life... So, I want to share with you why everyone can benefit from taking an improv class.

1. Confidence! I’ll admit that it’s pretty scary to walk into a room full of strangers as an adult and do strange improv exercises. That's the idea I push when running warm-ups and games: everybody is in the same boat. You’re not the only one who looks silly– we all do! That’s a great way to look at life in general – we all have struggles, issues, bad days, good days and it’s kind of nice to realize we’re all in this together. It gives you confidence to know that you can handle almost anything.

2. No Fears, Find Fun! Improv pushes you to step outside of your comfort zone. To participate in the class, you have to go on stage but you’re surrounded by supportive classmates and a teacher who will cheer you on and motivate you to find your voice.

3. Say Yes! The philosophy of improv is the idea of “yes, and”. Not only are you saying, “Yes” but you’re also providing more information. By saying yes, you move action forward instead of stalling it. "And" means you add to the original idea. If you're saying no to new ideas... You could be missing out on so much! Basically, why do the same old thing when you're looking for something to do in Sacramento or Roseville Friday or Saturday night? Why not try something new... Say for instance a hilarious comedy club in Roseville. (I'm performing most nights!)

4. Social benefits! Get ready to make a ton of friends you never thought you’d be friends with... Improv attracts all types of people. And your life is going to be better because of it. Folks come from all over Placer, Sacramento, and Yolo County. It’s cool to get together with people outside of your main group of friends and bond over why you started taking improv classes.

5. Think fast! In an improv class, you’re not training to be FUNNY, your humor is natural, but you are training your brain to act faster. It’s a helpful tool for any situation.

6. Basically, improv is awesome. Even if you don’t want to be an actor, improviser, writer or performer – it’s a super beneficial skill to have and it's fun. It encourages you to let go of the fear and be a confident, risk-taking and positive person. All of a sudden, you’ll find yourself solving problems with ease and not turning down new ideas. You’ll have a whole new set of people to call when you want to grab a drink or two. And let's face it, you’re going to fail at some things… improv is going to make it so much easier to deal with. So, do it!

Take a risk, sign up for a class and get ready for a whole new outlook.

Join the fun this weekend at Blacktop Comedy's Intro to Improv Weekend Intensive. Register NOW.

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