The Improv Life: How Viewpoints Got Me Out of My Head

I loved working with Oliver Georgiou.

Connecting With Your Body

Improv is an art form that rewards either a rapid fire cognitive process or instant emotional reactions.

Both are great and amazing, and every improviser needs both, but when you lean heavily into one you might close yourself off to the benefits of the other.

Not only that, it closes you off to any other potential inputs from the environment that can influence your character’s behavior or how you are reacting in the moment.

Viewpoints is an improv method that opens you up to everything — the shape of the room, the relationship of objects in the space, how far away are you from the wall, the humidity in the air, the ambient sounds and aromas surrounding you, the posture of your scene partner, the composition of the light in the room, and more.

Basically, it empowers your other senses to become as much a part of your improv style as your heart and brain.

And Oliver Georgiou is a great teacher.

He teaches Viewpoints as another tool to add to your improv tool belt, not as a prescriptive philosophy that is the ultimate truth of improv.

Working with him felt like seeing a Chiropractor — he observed my play style and adjusted my movements to allow for other things to inform my choices, not just how fast I could respond cognitively.

He is firm, grounded, and physical in his teaching approach.

We were encouraged to wear clothing we would feel comfortable moving around in and to go without shoes during the class.

But perhaps this is because Viewpoints requires you to be in tune with your physical senses to respond in the moment without having your brain or emotions judge or water down your choices.

To be clear, this is my understanding of Viewpoints as I experienced it. I don’t know if this is a correct summation.

However, you should try it!

Viewpoints will get you out of your head and into your body. Your heightened physical awareness will inform your choices and expand your horizon of possible reactions in addition to cognition and feeling.

And Oliver is a great teacher! Reach out to him personally at sodaimpro@gmail.com for more information and class schedules.

Fernando

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The Improv Life: Neal Dandade Is The World’s Most Approachable Improv Teacher

Neal is amazing. Study with him today.

Why You Should Study with Neal Dandade

I think a lot of improv teachers like to surround themselves with a shroud of mysticism and status, consciously or not.

As the carriers of knowledge and bearers of truth, not to mention amazing improvisers, they are intimidating.

That wall of experience and expertise is a hard barrier to cross. And some students never cross it.

None of this applies to Neal Dandade. In fact, he is the exact opposite. He is one of the most approachable human beings you’ll ever meet.

Yes, he’s experienced, knowledgeable, and talented, but those things are not the first things you encounter when talking to Neal.

Always with a big smile, there is nothing insincere in Neal’s interactions with you.

As a student, that’s tremendous. Neal’s openness and absence of judgement makes it easy for you to feel safe and comfortable around him. And because you feel those things, it’s easy to take risks in his class.

Whatever you do in class, whether the whole class is cracking up at your performance or left scratching their heads because of your choices, Neal is able to sum up what you did perfectly.

But here is what’s most amazing: he’s able to do that while stating how your choices are a reflection of your unique improv style.

Neal makes you aware of how you play, and he pushes you to use that awareness to break bad habits, move out of your comfort zone, and propel your own growth.

Study with Neal today. Get all the benefits of training with an improv guru without the angst of possibly disappointing one.

He’s sweet, sincere, knowledgeable, and cares — what else can you ask for?

Studying with Neal for my Level 2 Improv Class at the Pack Theater was a happy accident, and I can’t recommend any further why you should study with him. I probably could, but that’s for another post.

Thanks, Neal!

Fernando

#packtheater #improv #teacher

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The Improv Life: A Poem For All The Friends That Have Come & Gone

It all just sort of blurs together in the end.

Cheers To Good Times & Good Friends

The romanticism of a dream is eroded by the loss of the people who have come and gone.

Like footsteps on a beach, who you were at the beginning of a journey is lost forever once you leave where you began.

I look at my face in the mirror, and all I can see are the marks of age and experience — the price I have paid for giving my life to a dream that may never come true.

But mostly I think of all the relationships that no longer are, and the things that will never be again because that chapter has been closed, the book finished, and placed on a shelf to be hidden in order to be forgotten.

I am Odysseus and I have lost men, good men in this journey. Perhaps I am lost myself and who knows if I will ever find home.

Despite all my ambition, my schemes and dreams and non-stop march to an unknowable destiny, all I want is one more day in the sun with my friends.

#poem

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Why People Leave Improv & Why Others Stay

(Can’t believe I’m still in it all these years.)

I’ve seen a lot of people come and go to the improv life these past 10 years.

Everybody comes to it for a different reason, and everybody expects a certain type of outcome from it.

Somebody thinks their funny, so they figure improv will be easy.

Another dude has always wanted to be a comedian, so they choose improv as their way of breaking in to fame and fortune.

Someone else is socially awkward, and they look to improv to heal them of this affliction.

Whatever the reason people come to improv, I’m always surprised that people leave it.

They realize being funny with your group of friends isn’t as easy when working with strangers in front of other strangers.

They lose patience with the time it takes to get good and walk away because of frustration.

They try it, realize it’s not what they expected and cut their losses ASAP.

People leave for a million different reasons.

For me, improv has been everything.

Although I don’t revere it as a religion — I’m not one to champion one improv style over the other, nor claim my improv style as the best one — it’s given me all the things a religion would give you: deep and meaningful relationships, a community of kindred spirits and fellow travelers, an identity rooted from within, a sense of place in the universe and a meaning to my life.

I think if you come to it expecting fast rewards delivered to you on your time table, it will disappoint you.

Improv will reward you. And in ways you don’t expect. But you have to give it time. You have to be kind and patient. Not only with yourself, but with the process and the people sharing the journey with you.

So if you want to be rich and famous, good luck with that; I’m still figuring it out

But if you want to discover a part of yourself you didn’t know you had; if you want to make some deep and impactful relationships that will add meaning and purpose to your life; if you just want have the time of your life doing one of the most fulfilling and joy giving activities one can ever do, do improv.

Do improv and see what rewards it has in store for you.

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The Improv Life: What Would’ve Happened Had I Not Chosen This Life 10 Years Ago

Once we choose a path, it’s hard to turn back.

A Powerful Dream Of A Life Not Lived

I had a very powerful dream the other night where I dreamt of how my life would’ve been had I not chosen improv over love 10 years ago.

It wasn’t a cinematic dream with Michael Bay helicopter shots or music from John Barry playing during poignant moments.

It was a slice of my life had I chosen love over being a comedian.

I was married with four kids, two who were not my own, to a woman who loved me less than I loved her.

Basically, she settled for me, and that was a victory for me.

I worked two jobs, a white collar 9-5, and some catering staff on the weekends. We were broke but happy. And we lived in a big house I had organized.

However, I was exhausted, and I was a shitty father because of it. I was a bad son too because I had not seen my parents in a while. I had but all abandoned my sister.

I was visited in the dream by two friends who have been pivotal to my improv journey, and I to theirs.

But we weren’t friends. We were strangers. We were strangers who immediately liked each other, but did not know why.

In the dream neither of us were doing improv. No where near it in fact.

One friend was selling stainless Steel Japanese kitchen knives door to door. He was an excellent salesmen, and I invited him in for coffee and chatted him up. My wife did not like him, so I dismissed him. I did buy some knives though. I was left wanting more however.

Another friend I didn’t even meet in person. He was playing in my kitchen television, a headline in a CNN segment. It read, “YouTube Star Nearly Dies In Drug O.D.” He looked sad and lost. My heart sank as I felt for this stranger I had just met for the first time.

The dream ended with my wife telling me to turn off the TV and get ready to visit my parents.

The dream has stayed with me some days, and I have not been able to shake it away from my consciousness. 

Dreams are more intense for me as I am Salvadoran. Growing up, dreams were discussed out in the open and shared with the family. 

Dreams were valid and respected and warranted interpretation if you were to go about your day unimpeded. 

So what is the interpretation of this dream? 

Important fact: September will be my 10 year anniversary of doing improv. 

Here’s what I think the dream meant: There is room for only so many people in your life, and by choosing some you are immediately disqualifying others. 

The paths we choose come with people who will impact our journeys, and we to theirs. And for some people, you are more important to their journey than you know and imagine. 

And that this artform we all love and suffered for is just some larger force that brings people together in a way no other thing can. 

It doesn’t have to be improv. It could be power lifting, comics, or rock’n’roll. It’s something whose shared love can bridge the gap between two strangers and turn them into life long friends.

I also think it means that some people are meant to be in our lives. That some people are just that important to our journey; without them we would not become the awesome human beings were meant to be.

Finally, I think it was a confirmation that I made the right choice nearly 10 years ago. 

Yes, I loved this woman, but she didn’t love me back with the same force. She would’ve settled for me because it was the path of least resistance. But it wouldn’t be a love that would’ve aged well.

With improv, despite all the bullshit that comes with it, there has never been a day that I have regretted this decision. 

Nothing beyond family, friendship, writing, and school has brought me more joy. And a lot of those aforementioned things all had improv in there somewhere. I chose improv because it was a path with a heart. And in this big unpredictable world, this long and meandering march to death, all we have is a path with a heart.

#improv

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