I’ve been doing improv for a couple years now, and while my skills are always in constant disrepair, there are some incredibly talented people out there in your own backyard (especially if you happen to live in Chicago or New York…but that’s a different site altogether).
Los Angeles has a new(ish) improv community that is being fueled by the success of improvisers such as Steve Carrell, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler ( not to mention the rest of the Upright Citizens Brigade), and just about every single person you see in a Sonic or other dumb commercial. They’re all improvisers, every single on of them!
Your chances of going to an improv show around LA and saying at least one time ‘Hey i recognize that guy from…’ are nearly 100%, and with the exodus of performers from the Midwest and the East Coast to the Golden State, the chances are getting even BETTER (and so is the talent). The shows are dirt cheap (rarely costing more than ten bucks, and often times are FREE…did i say FREE? I did!) and are full of some of the most talented up and coming performers/writers/entertainment folks around.
The ‘magic’ of improv, is that there are no scripts, and everything is made up right in front of the audiences face – generally from their suggestions! It’s like YOU’RE the writer of a half hour television sitcom! (that happens to not be on television). The appeal to an audience, is that: 1. it’s cheap entertainment 2. it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity (no matter how many times a group will get the suggestion ‘pizza’, the moment that is created on stage will be different EVERY SINGLE TIME – think about that next time you’re singing along to that Radiohead song you like so much at their $100 concert and their tired old set list) 3. it’s fun. And that’s the most important part. Watching people succeed (or inevitably fail) on stage is an extremely exciting opportunity. Witnessing performers walk the tightrope of ultimate embarrassment is unmatched by rehearsed entertainment.
Where can you see this stuff? TONS of places. So many places are offering high quality improv for the price of a beer (or less).
The Improv Space In Westwood
The IO West In Hollywood
Upright Citizens Brigade (or UCB for those who are much more savvy) In Hollywood
Room 101 In Los Angeles
Mission Improvable In Santa Monica
There are plenty of places all over town. There are even smaller theaters and venues that offer improv on various days of the week. You really have no excuse NOT to go out there and get out of your comfort zone. 90% of these theaters offer classes and workshops – ranging from free to ridiculously overpriced – if you’re so inclined to give it a shot.
Don’t confuse it with ‘The Improv’, or you will be severely gouged and disappointed. Unless you’re looking for overpriced standup, then by all means go check out ‘The Improv’.
Many teams are putting their shows online nowadays too (but believe me, the magic is in the room – not on the video – you will often look at video of shows you saw and wonder why anyone was laughing so hard…it’s unexplainable, and can only be experienced in the moment). My team ‘The Board’ has a show below you can check out
The Board Goes to Washington from Adam Macy on Vimeo.
and there are some other teams that put their performances online as well – including an excellent, well established group USS Rock N Roll
So, come out to The Improv Space every Friday at 8:30 to watch your very own Arnold Benedict make a fool of himself (email me firstname.lastname@example.org for comps and special gifts and prizes) or go to one of the many other venues that are available for your entertainment.