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Why Every Person Should Take An Improv Class!

(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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My Top 5 New-Years Improvisation Improvements

I’ve never really been into making resolutions. I was great at breaking them. Of course, the size and importance determined the length of time that I could keep it up. I still have broken promises to myself from 1988. I finally gave up “resolution setting” as I realized I was continuing to set myself up for rejection year after year. If I wasn’t 125 pounds when I was 18, I sure wasn’t going to hit that now, seeing as I’ve passed 18 by a few years. But I accepted that and strived to be healthy instead. As I’ve turned my life towards goal setting as opposed to resolution setting, I applied that same theory toward my Improvisation. I find it amazing the things I’ve learned in such a short time, and with any skill, find myself frustrated with the areas in which I struggle. Like any art form, it takes a life time to master. When contemplating what I want to see from my own improvisation for the next year, I came up with my personal Top 5 key areas for improvement.

  • Enjoy the Silence - Whether I’m in yoga class or improv, there is nothing as unnerving as silence. Those are supposed to best minutes in yoga. They have certainly produced some of the funniest results in improv. It’s almost a physical obstacle, as if my mouth can’t stay closed and I must break the silence. Therefore, in the coming year, I will work on improving the silence of my work.

  • Give me a Break- Yep, I’m a giggler. I feel like I found something fun and funny and awesome and I want to laugh out loud. But, in the interest of maintaining a professional stage appearance, I’m going to work on not “breaking” on stage and rolling on the floor in giggles. I am currently, “mostly terrible” at holding it together, so my goal is to improve, period.

  • What a Character- One of the most difficult things I have found since beginning my journey into improvisation is finding a character in the scene. Sure it’s easy enough to go out onstage and “be yourself”, or even be a different shade of yourself, but to become a completely different character is sometimes elusive. Recently I completed the Level 3 Improv, and have a lot of material to work with on this matter! We will see what, I mean who, emerges from that venture!

  • We’re All In It Together- Simply put, I’m going to do my best to rescue, help, save, support or whatever needs to be done to ensure that my scene partner(s) feel supported 100% of the time.

  • Pick Up An Accent – Maybe a little out of place here, but this one is on my “100 Things I Want to Do” List. It’s going to get interesting. It might be Venezuelan, it might be Greek, I haven’t quite decided yet. Most likely it will be British as I see this as the best excuse to rewatch all the Dr. Who episodes, starting with the 9th Doctor (war doctor excluded). So for now Allons-y and Geronimo!!!


Lisa Wildman, a current Blacktop Comedy student, lives with her husband, two teenage girls, two dogs and a cat in the foothills of Placer County. Lisa enjoys Taekwondo, reading, time with her family, staying active, and most recently improv.



Improv Principles For a Truly Happy Holiday Season

With Thanksgiving behind us, we’re full swing into the holidays now. Racing through December and onto the New Year. Like most people, you’re probably busy racing around town, scouring the internet, party planning or packing for visiting family. It’s easy to get lost in the hustle. BE IN THE MOMENT Enjoy where you are now. We often remind students in workshops that when they’re “in the moment”, they will not worry (since that is about the future) and they will not judge themselves or others (since you can only judge based on the past). The Holidays is a wonderful time to practice being present in the now. There is so much in every moment that you miss if you don’t make time to notice it. The smells, lights and sounds this time of year are worth noticing.

IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU Onstage the goal is make your partner look good. You stop worrying about yourself. The interesting thing is that if they look good, you look good, the audience is amazed and everyone wins. Focusing on someone else is the fastest way to let go of yourself and fall into that “Holiday Spirit”.

THERE IS NO PLAN In life, like on the improv stage, there is no plan. Try as you might even the best laid plans can quickly go awry. Flights being delayed, unexpected weather, unexpected guests can happen to even the most thoughtful person. Knowing that you can’t control it all helps to relax and enjoy the ride regardless of the detours.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! ---- Betsaida LeBron is the Theater Manager at Blacktop Comedy and a current member of the Long-Form Improv Show: True Story, where a weekly guest tells stories from their past as inspiration for improvised scenes. She also teaches the Intro to Improvisation workshops and loves the life-lessons that students get from “playing fun make-em-ups”.