Chapter 11: Improv

Most of my Thirty Before Thirty goals are ridiculous.

However, today’s is my first seriously ridiculous one.

And it is …

I M P R O V.

What the Improv?

Improv is sort for Improvisation, or Improvisational Theatre, a comedy format where performers make up scenes entirely on the spot.

Think, Key and Peele (“A-a-ron”), Amy Poehler and the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, and the entirety of What We Do In The Shadows.

It’s quick thinking comedy, and it’s what I’ve been learning to do for the past eight weeks at BaseJump Improv in Wellington, and on Friday I did my very first proper show.

As an attention-seeker who loves to make people laugh, improv is kind of my dream scenario.

But improv fun and games isn’t just limited to drama queens like me. There’s something for the whole Breakfast Club.

The athlete, the brain, the princess (hi), the basket case and the bad ass all have attributes that lend themselves to improv, and attributes improv can help improve in them.

For instance, the shy smart introvert might have killer wit, but hate being the centre of attention.

Enter: improv, where there is no such thing as failure, and your friends have your back.

Our shy guy gets more confident in himself and comfortable being in front of people, and the performance gets to revel and rofl in his brilliance.

Win win, cough cough, you should sign up.

But back to Friday and

Show Time!

Photo credit: Joel Luscombe

Our improv format is simple, if you know what you’re doing, otherwise it’s wonderfully confusing.

This is the breakdown:

  1. Ask the audience for a word
  2. A performer does a monologue (“That word reminds me of this short, funny/interesting story full of rich details …”) based on that word
  3. Performers do three distinct and seperate scenes taking elements from the original monologue
  4. Performer does a monologue based on one of these scenes
  5. Rinse and repeat.

It’s a damn thrill.

Although, full disclosure, I definitely had a low-grade sore stomach all day in anticipation for taking to the stage.

But as soon as I did my first scene, all of those nerves dissipated and were replaced by stage sweat and joy.

My favourite scene of mine was where I was pretending to be “Sex God Marlon Williams”, who is actually a real person, although heaven knows who. I hope he’s nothing like I played him.

My opening line was to tell my scene partner Will to keep his knickers on.

Real highbrow stuff.

I also loved getting to do a scene with my friend Mamae, who I peer-pressured asked to do the class with me. We were tourists in the South Island discussing why the people there were so very short.

Classic North Island jerks.

Why the Improv?

Improv is something I’ve wanted to try ever since I read Yes, Please by Amy Poehler, but just never got around to doing.

That is, until I started this blog and seized the bloody day and signed up.

And I’m so incredibly, insanely, obnoxiously happy that I did, because improv is bomb.


Kate Time

The lovely Amelia.

Not only have I made some great new friends (waves at Erin and Amelia), but I pushed myself to do something new, and different, and scary – and entirely for me.

As a relatively new mum, “me time” isn’t something I have in wild abundance.

Delicious, selfish snatches of the day are generally small and lovely – listening to music as I put my makeup on in the morning, laughing to a podcast on the train, going for a run jog (that one time)…

So having THREE HOURS to myself was so dreamy and self-indulgent.

Especially when it’s an activity where literally the entire point is to have fun and laugh.

How to be Funny

Taught be the endlessly encouraging James and Cailin, BaseJump’s Level 1 class lays out the basics of “how to do the thing” that is improv.

We learnt the flow and format of improvised comedy, how to initiate scenes, the importance of having your partner’s back (“yes – and!”), and importantly, just to let loose and be silly.

It was great. And so fun. And I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself this week now it’s finished …

Netflix Christmas movie?


But … Level 2 will be kicking off next year, and you know your girl is an over-achiever, and will most definitely be signing up.

Thank you, Thirty Before Thirty, you have introduced me to a true new love.

What have you always wanted to try. Ps. You should probably do it. You’re probably amazing at it, and would have a disgusting amount of fun.

*Quietly chants, do it, do it …*

Kate x

Disclaimer: it probably goes without saying, but this isn’t some snazzy sponsored post. I just did the course, bloody loved it, and decided to overshare on the internet. Classic Kate.

Although if anyone would like to give me obscene amounts of money and chic freebies to do fun stuff, I’d be totally into that … I do desperately need a cut and colour, and some new Nike Roshes, and I’d love to stay in a yurt … wait, what was the question …?

(All photos from the show are courtesy of Joel Luscombe).

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