Posts Tagged ‘improv


Improv 101: My teacher abandoned us for Pop-Tarts

As many of you know (especially since I mentioned it before in this blog), I’m taking Improv 101 through the Upright Citizens Brigade this summer. It’s an eight-week course, and we meet once a week for a three-hour class.

I was absolutely terrified before I started the class. I haven’t done any improv since high school, and that wasn’t even real improv. (We had time to prepare scenes. We don’t have those kind of luxuries at the UCB). But I wanted to do something fun for myself while I was in the city, and I wanted the chance to meet new people who actually live here. It turns out that taking Improv 101 was the best decision I made all summer.

I really was terrified at the first class. But guess what? They don’t plunge you into scene work right away. We do warm-up exercises at the beginning of each class that are meant to help us learn to trust and respond to each other. By the time you’re done doing warm-up exercises, you’re not nervous about jumping into a scene anymore. The first thing I had to do was to learn not to be embarrassed. If I don’t do well, I don’t do well. I don’t let it bother me.

Our original teacher abandoned us after two weeks to tour the East Coast to promote Pop-Tarts. I didn’t make that up. We like our new teacher, though, so it’s all good. We are NEVER bitter about it. Never.

Although I haven't eaten a Pop-Tart in years, the ones without frosting are my favorite.

Although I haven't eaten a Pop-Tart in years, the ones without frosting are my favorite.

I absolutely love the people in my class! I’m even Facebook friends with a few of them now (big step!). A lot of them studied theater in college, and some, like me, are just doing it for fun. All of them are a blast, and I love laughing at their scenes. I know a few of them are going to continue on to 201, and I wish I could do it with them. Whenever someone tells me that they don’t want me to leave New York, my heart breaks a little. I don’t want to leave either!

But before I do go, I must perform in my class’ show at the UCB Theatre next week — in front of people. Yikes! So far I’m bringing 15 people. We have been told that the more audience members we have, the better we will perform, especially since the audience is made up of friends and family who are there to love and support us. If you are attending my show, please laugh even if I am not funny. After seven weeks, I’m still a bit terrified.


It’s Showtime

No, I’m not talking about any Broadway musicals. I haven’t made it to one yet. Instead, I spent the week going to Unwigged & Unplugged and two shows at the Upright Citizens Brigade.

Unwigged & Unplugged


Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer

When I found out that Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer were going on tour to play their songs from A Mighty Wind and acoustic versions of their Spinal Tap songs, I bought tickets right away. My friends and I went through a pretty heavy Christopher Guest phase freshman year of college. I don’t even know how many times we watched Waiting for Guffman, which is still my favorite of the Guest movies. Needless to say, going to the concert on Tuesday took me right back to being 18 years old, sitting in someone’s common room and laughing hysterically. Sharing the experience with Christine, who was one of the original girls in that common room, made it that much better.

I didn’t know the Spinal Tap songs as well. What I was really excited for were the Folksmen songs from A Mighty Wind. And before the concert, I told Christine that I hoped they would play “A Penny for Your Thoughts” from Waiting for Guffman, and they did! I’ve had it stuck in my head ever since. They even played “Saucy Jack,” the title song from the rock musical about Jack the Ripper that Spinal Tap said they were going to work on at the end of This is Spinal Tap.

Christine and I were among the younger people at the concert, but we expected that. The crowd was mostly made up of middle-aged men with beards who were really there for the Spinal Tap songs. Did I mention that we were in the last row of the entire theatre? Because we were. But it was still awesome.


Upright Citizens Brigade

 I mentioned in a previous post that I’m taking Improv 101 at the UCB this summer, so I plan on going to as many shows there as possible too — especially since they have $2 PBRs. (Side note: Someone here informed me that PBR is now a “hipster” beer, but I was under the impression that it was a “poor student” beer. Thoughts?)

On Wednesday, I went to an improvised play performed by Scott Adsit and Christina Gausas. For those of you who don’t know, Adsit portrays Pete Horberger on 30 Rock, which is why I bought tickets two weeks ago. I saw him at the bar at the theatre and was so startled that I think he noticed. I can never figure out how to act around famous people. After the show, we could have gone up to talk to Adsit outside, but we were too nervous, so we talked to Gausas instead. She was pretty much the nicest person ever, and she was glad to hear I was taking a class at the UCB. She even introduced herself as Christina even though we knew who she was because we just saw her show. I just thought that was really sweet.

Christina Gausas and Scott Adsit

Christina Gausas and Scott Adsit

My trip to the UCB on Thursday was last-minute. I ran into some of the other Mizzou students on my walk home, and they said they were going, so I naturally joined. The show was an improv cage match. Two improv groups performed and the audience voted for who they thought was the best. I voted for the first group not only because I thought they were funnier, but also because they had females in their group. I like to support female comedians whenever possible because there are so few of them. The second group was all dudes, and all they did was make zombie and sex jokes. In my opinion, zombies are too easy to joke about at this point.

There’s another show at the UCB tonight that I really want to go to, but I’m going to try to stop myself from going there three nights in one week. Maybe I should explore other parts of NYC first.


Preparation #1: Signing up for a class at the UCB

I can’t quite believe it, but I leave for New York City on Saturday. I’m slightly terrified but also extremely excited. After all, some of my best friends are waiting for me with open arms, and we’ll be celebrating my 23rd birthday the night I get there. It’s a good way to start my two months in the city.

I haven’t started packing or shopping for new clothes yet, but I’ve been preparing for my summer in other ways. I decided I wanted to take complete advantage of my time in NYC, so I signed up for an improv class at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.


The UCB is a place where you can see an improv comedy show for $5 or $10, and famous comedians regularly appear there. I went to one show in November, and Chevy Chase showed up. Quite a few people from 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live have performed there, so it’s a pretty quality place. The UCB offers sketch-writing classes too. If one of those opens up, I might switch over and drop the improv class. But the more I think about it, the more I think I should take the class that scares me more, which is definitely improv.

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A blog about my summer as an unpaid intern in New York City.

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