I have an addictive personality. I don’t mean, “let’s see what’s Paul’s doing! I can’t get enough of that guy!” No, I mean, “I like improv. This brings me joy! How many improv classes and improv festivals can I attend this year. Go!” That sort of addiction. It has its pros and cons. Cons??….Ummm…..hmmm….well….uhhhh. OK, I can’t think of many cons. Hell, improv brings me joy. Surrounding myself with teachers like Susan Messing, Rafe Chase, Tim Orr, Mark Sutton, and Joe Bill just magnifies the happiness. Yes. Addiction. I was addicted. To improv, and took a lot of improv workshops. I read books, registered for master class workshops, poured over clips of 3 for All, and Upright Citizens Brigade’s Asssscat videos like it werea football game film.
Then, I went to San Francisco and studied at BATS. A teacher suggested: “you should do other things.” I didn’t quite understand. “Go to a museum.” But I have improv. “Go read some fiction.” But I have improv. “Go find another hobby.” But I have improv! “The more you learn, the more you go see the world around you, the richer your improv scenes become.” Ohhhhh.
That made a lot of sense. I’m no good at an improv workshop or show if I don’t have any life experiences. I got tunnel vision, everything I saw was improv, and the art suffered. The comedy suffered. No one is sitting home on a Saturday night thinking, “Let’s go support some local comedy that feels small naive and immature.”
So, what did I do with this new insight? Honestly? I wish I could say I went scuba diving in Figi, sky diving in Paris, and fed baby penguins who knew of nothing but life on the streets. They’re tough penguins. (side note: if you google “penguin movies,” you’ll be surprised to find tons penguin films. Well, I was surprised. Maybe you won’t be. Maybe you helped produce some of them. In which case, great work with Happy Feet!)
Nope. Instead….I flipped through magazines. I hoarded magazines and stared at ads. And, you should too!
Magazine’s are packed with hundreds of worlds. Each ad is a world. You can enter it. You can see how it makes you feel, and what ideas are there. And, then you can jump to another, and adsorb that world. And, on and on and on.
It’s an experience hack. Better then real life, and trying new things? No. Never. But, before a show, if you’re trying to get your brain flowing with ideas, and thoughts, open up a magazine. I keep a bunch backstage at Blacktop Comedy.