Phoenix Improv Festival: To Make Them Stay

I think it would be super cool to make my living improvising and teaching others to do it.

This is really hard. This is really simple.

To make a career out of improv you have to

1.       Be a good improviser.
2.       Find LOTS of people who want to watch improv and learn how to do it.
3.       Make those people stay.

Last night, I’m sitting in the balcony of the beautiful (and BIG) Herberger Theatre in downtown Phoenix. I’m delighting in the improvisation of some wonderful local troupes at what was the opening of the 11th Phoenix Improv Festival.

I see this theatre full of people who want to watch improv. I see The Foundation take the stage. They are the teaching faculty from The Torch Theatre (Phoenix). They are 10 people strong.

I’ve got to know how they’ve got so many people teaching – possibly making their living doing this thing we love. They must have lots of people taking classes and coming to shows!

The national improv community loves to stand around, talk about improv and be friends just as much as our local improv communities.

I’m chatting with one of The Torch instructors, Sam Haldiman. I point out that their faculty is large. The crowd at the festival is large. I asked why he thought improv students continue to take classes. What makes people keep doing it.

Fittingly surrounded by the sights and sounds of people genuinely enjoying one another, Sam told me he thought most people were initially attracted by the chance to learn how to do something cool, but being a part of a community is what makes them stay.

I look around at all these people being open to one another and laughing together. I know this is true.

– Matt Graham