That time when I made people laugh

Judy Grimes played by Kristen Wiig

I take comedy very seriously.

Four years ago I wanted to be an improv comedian. I was taking on a variety of design jobs — some more stimulating than others — and was always looking for design challenges. While searching for other outlets for my creative energies, I experienced a short interlude in improv comedy. At first, the thought of it terrified me, because I had to go on stage and make people laugh on a brightly lit stage. I do tell an occasional joke, but making strangers laugh wasn’t my thing.

I looked into improv classes in New York and signed up for the Pit’s beginner level. Apart from making people laugh, there are some key things I learned.

  • “Yes, and” When your scene partners says something, agree and add more to the story
  • Don’t ask questions
  • Don’t say no
  • And most importantly, do not kill off your stage partners. It’s just rude.
ThunderHead (Improv group) From left me, Max, Toby, Samantha, David, Beth and Mitch

After performing my first improv show on stage, I was hooked! The audience laughed at my jokes. Was I officially funny? They were a bit drunk, but still it counts. One summer I went to Second City in Chicago to study improv and comedy writing. I walked the halls of famous alumni, a few who we love: Tina Fey, Steve Carrell, Stephen Colbert, Jim Belushi and Amy Poehler. When I returned back to New York I continued to move up each level at the Pit. A few of my classmates and I got together and decided to create an improv group, called ThunderHead. Our performances were considered top notch. When we were on stage, we were all in the same wavelength. We knew how to make each other funnier, the audience laughed and laughed. We even got invited to comedy festivals and perform at the Pit.

After a year passed my interest in comedy deteriorated and I wanted to go back to do more design, another went to law school, another became a project manager and a few became funny comedians. I did not want to be the next Tina Fey, rather the next Dan Formosa. Improv taught me to look beyond my immediate world to find inspiration and meaning. I have also learned to take risk, collaborate, improvise, and go beyond my comfort zone.

Will I do improv comedy again though? Absolutely.