So I decided to take improv classes at Second City – one of my goals this year is to learn to public speak better and to better speak extemporaneously. Toastmasters is on the list of things to do and Second City seems like a really fun way to accomplish something similar. I used to be the guy who would wait until the very end to go and be nervous if I knew I was next – I promised myself to jump and always volunteer and never be last for anything for this class – no matter how stupid I am probably going to look. It’s a really fun and challenging experience, I would have to classify it as a huge adventure in that it really gets me out of my comfort zone and stretches and expands my world. I also laugh way more than I do at work or most other times, it is such a blast. I have taken other classes and done other things – but it has been a long time since I really looked forward to Wednesday nights and going to a class – I am fired up before, during and after, like right now as I type I have energy and excitement pumping through me – such a great feeling. I am pretty excited by the thought of being on stage. I once taught rock climbing to the great Charna Halpern, owner and co-founder of Improv Olympic, now know as IO, another improv school here in Chicago, which if you didn’t know is an improv mecca, turning out some of the bigger names in comedy including John Belushi, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Chris Farley and many others. Folks from Chicago populate much of the staff of Saturday Night Live, the Conan O’Brien show, Mad TV, and others. Anyways – back to rock climbing and Charna. We talked for a long time after and during climbing and drew many parallels between climbing and being on stage. At that point I was petrified of the thought of being on stage and speaking in front of people, but not too worried hanging by a rope 60 feet in the air with one person holding me up. Charna felt similarly scared by climbing but no hesitance at all about being on stage. The fear in both is very real – and a second parallel is that in improv you are very dependent on your partner to not make you look like a fool – climbing you are very dependent on your partner to save your life. Deep bonds are established between people in both activities, very real fear is experienced in both and can be heightened by choice (higher more dangerous climbs, bigger and bigger audiences) and both stretch and expand the participants’ worlds.
Try climbing and try improv if you have the chance!!
Scond City’s website is here, IO’s is here, and Lakeshore Athletic Club’s Illinois Center site is here – I teach every Tuesday from 4:30 to 6:30 so come on down and let them know that you are there to see me, might get you a deal.