Over the past 4-5 years, I've had the pleasure of being an active part of the Chicago comedy community. I've taken improv and sketch classes in five different schools around the country, I have performed up to six shows a week with the best improvisers in the world, and I've even tried my hand at teaching and directing improv and sketch. All this while also maintaining a full-time job as an online training developer (and more recently, improve it! Director! woohoo!). I consider myself lucky to be able to experience both my life passions every day.
If you asked me, point blank, who are better improvisers - the people i work with in my "comedy" life or the people I work with in my "career" life, I wouldn't even have to hesitate. The "careers" have it.
Hear me out.
While I do believe that I've improvised with the smartest, quickest, funniest, and most creative people in the world (THE WORLD, I SAY) onstage, there's nothing more impressive than watching the day-to-day improvisation of someone who is great at their job. Especially if you've worked in any sort of client-based space, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.
Project timeline hit a snag? A good Project Manager barely misses a beat, working out how to compensate for lost days.
Resources being unreliable? A good team always works together to figure out a work-around.
Client wants additional work that's out of scope, over budget, and - oh yeah - delivered a week ahead of the planned delivery date? A good developer knows to listen to what's needed and create a solution that works with the client.
There is no "no", there is no "but", there is no "can't". Especially in a world where everyone expects products to be available to them as soon as possible and to their exact specifications, a great employee is always ready to throw out their original plan in favor of a new one. They know to listen, communicate, and live in what's happening now.
That's why I love developing and attending our improve it! workshops. A lot of people who begin the workshop don't know how masterful they are at improvising without ever taking a formal class or performing a single scene on stage. They see our team of seasoned improvisers and think, "Well, they've had practice. I could never be as good as they are at this." I love to see those people step out of the circle to participate and get blown away by their own talent. You - yes you - have all the skills you need to be an incredible improviser! You've learned from "the school of life" to be a team player, no matter how far down you have to reach to access those talents. And don't worry if you can't find them yourself, that's what we're here for! The truth is, you're a star. And someone (like me) has noticed.
We all improvise our butts off every day, and we're pretty darn great at it. improve it! is just here to show you how great you really are.
Allie Keller is an improviser, writer, director, and improv coach who has studied at Northwestern University, The Second City Conservatory, iO Training Center, Annoyance Training Center, UCB New York, and Green Shirt Studio. She has produced and directed "Mic Fight“ and "Will You Accept This Rose: An Improvised Parody of The Bachelor“. She has over five years of experience in corporate training development and design and is an active member of the improve it! team as the Director of Operations.