Kimya Dawson song sings this song about why she is a musician: Tell someone you miss them, tell someone you need them, tell someone you wish you could be with them all the time. Sounds silly but it’s not a game, making music makes me sane. I sing away my pain and everything turns out okay. I’m not talking fame and glory, ’cause that’s a different story: this story is about how truth and love can save the day.
We are a movement of humble grandeur wherein we all find, and give, what we need to make us sane. Because, let’s be real here, creative people need art to survive. Sometimes I think about all the brilliant comedians who really needed to make laughter happen in the world, and how they probably wouldn’t have made it through life without it.
I visited the UCB theater in New York in 2002. It was the first time I saw an improv venue. I felt like a hummingbird. I was filled up with desire and passion all at once, like a hidden place inside me had been awakened. There was a free hilarious show, and well known comedians in an intimate space, and all the other scintillating things CJ mentions in his account of his first improv experience, but I was floored by what came next. Horatio Sans came out with a bucket and he said “You know, put a buck in the bucket if you’ve got it. It’s Sunday. And for all the people here, well this is what we do on Sunday. This is our home and our place of freedom and inspiration. This is our Church.” That felt very right.
My dream for Improv isn’t that we all get on TV.
I know some of us are film makers, and I hope films are made. Some of us are MCs, and I hope their voices reach a wide audience. Some of us are skillful actors, and I pray that stages worthy of that talent and large appreciative audiences wait in their future. But for us all, I hope that we Always have a place where we thrive. I hope we create spaces where needs are met and lives are changed (corny as that may sound, it is real). We are called the New Movement for a reason.
We live in a moment where people are aching for amusement that applies to them.
People want to watch or be involved with things that are real, raw, and local. Local means that your community is more fascinating if it has performers, musicians, artists, and comedians in it. Local in the sense that going to see people in your town express themselves is part of an engaged life, while watching something on a screen that supports Budweisertm, Exxontm, and MickyD’stm is boring.
I hope we always grow. We’ll be a movement that catches like wildfire in the minds of the passionate and needy. We are made of people; and we are framed by how we educate people about our intentions. We aren’t here just to make you giggle, and this isn’t the chuckle shack with a two drink minimum. We are building an audience for local comedy, art, music, and dance, the same way that Starbucks taught the country to drink espresso. Comedy is addictive, delightful, powerful, and sneaky in a way other art forms only wish they could be. People get seduced by laughs. I can’t wait for creative sacred spaces to infest every city. I want everybody in the United States to have a friend in an improv troupe. A nationwide understanding of life altering concepts like Collaboration, Yes&, Heightening, Trust, and Bravery will flourish. We’ll all be the better for it.
(ps: Dan Rumney sent me some thoughts on these things & I will be including them in an upcoming post. Hey reader, there’s still time for *you* to send me your ideas, thoughts, or questions for the future of improv!)