One of the things that continues to blow my mind about improv is the sense of community it provides. I was reminded of this once again last Friday night. I attended the “H2g Playground” , a monthly community event designed to give improv enthusiasts an opportunity to perform, watch or socialize in a relaxed happy hour type environment. The idea kicked off last month, and this was its second outing. I really didn’t know what to expect.
What turned out was a diverse group of people full of warmth and laughter. Plenty of current and former students showed up and put their names in a hat to perform with troupe members. Their friends came to support them. To my surprise, there was a rather large pocket of people I hadn’t seen before. They came in couples and groups. They sat by themselves at first, yet eventually began mingling with everyone else.
As the show started, students’ names were randomly pulled from a hat, leading to excitement for every scene. Each performer received a huge round of applause, and everyone in the audience became personally invested in their success. It was more like a birthday party than a show. As intermission arrived, we all felt like we knew each other. But we didn’t. Who were those folks that I hadn’t recognized?
As I rose to introduce myself, I was stunned to discover a handful of folks who had never been to an improv event before. They came for the good cause (all proceeds benefit an Improv Scholorship Program), to mingle with creative people, and see what improv was like. This was an unexpected highlight of the night. I was delighted that their first experience with improv was one of warmth, laughter and encouragement.
At home in bed, I thought about it some more. What was so surprising? Improv has a way of creating community. I have been involved in the art for 15 years, and each school, each city, has a unique personality, an inviting place for eccentric individuals to call home. I’m so grateful to be a part of it. I hope we can continue expand our family, and share the joy of laughter.