If there is anything about Jimmy it’s that he is probably one of the most honest improvisors there is. Just listen to any Improv Nerd podcast and you’ll see what I mean. I had a chance to interview improvisor, master teacher, blogger and Improv Nerd Jimmy Carrane about his newest book Improv Therapy.
What inspired you to write Improv Therapy?
I think with everything I do — my blog, the Improv Nerd podcast, my teaching and this book — I am trying to offer emotional support to improvisers that I did not get when I was starting out in improv as a needy, fat kid in the ’80s.
As you know, the culture of improv is supportive — the whole “yes and…” and “making your partner look good” thing. But that is different than how you feel about yourself or how you react to a bad show or the jealousy you feel about other people’s success. These are the things that get in the way of your career, and they are the things most improvisers don’t want to talk about. But not talking about it does not make it go away. In fact, it actually gets worse, and by talking about it, it gets better and you become a better improviser. I feel like a broken record, but improv is a personal art form, and what affects us off stage in our lives has a direct effect on our improvising.
What do you want improvisers to get out of this book?
To know it’s ok to feel and think certain things like jealousy or shame or wanting to kill yourself after a bad show and there is nothing wrong with it. Actually, it’s healthy if you do think those thoughts. And by doing admitting it, you will become a better improviser. Also, if you need outside help, get it, because improv is not going to solve all of your problems.
Tell us about your process in writing this book…
Just as when I wrote Improvising Better with Liz Allen, we did not start out to write an improv book. Other people suggested it. Same thing with Improv Therapy. As I was writing my blogs every week, people kept saying “There is a book here.” Of course, I didn’t believe them. As with most of my creative endeavors, a lot of procrastination was involved.
Maybe it’s my improv training, but I could not write this book alone. So, my wife, Lauren, who loves to make lists and also edits my blogs, gathered all of my blogs together and found a theme to them, which was emotions. Then I needed to do some additional writing around the chapters, and she kept me on a schedule, and towards the end she confronted me on my perfectionism and said, “The book is done. ”
What is the difference between your first book, Improvising Better, and your newest book?<
Improvising Better is great how-to book. You have this problem in improv and this how you can fix it. I think it’s inspirational and a very easy read. I can’t believe it’s in its fifth printing. I am really proud of the collaboration between Liz Allen and me on that book. Improv Therapy is more emotional. It talks about bigger concepts of anger, shame, jealousy and joy.
Improvising Better is about the outer game while Improv Therapy is more about the inner game. I think it reflects my work in therapy and recovery from numerous addictions and it’s more from a student’s point of view
The second book also reflects my relationship with improv today. When I wrote the first book, I was primarily a teacher. At that point, I had given up on performing. I was more rigid in my thinking that there was a certain way to improvise. Doing Improv Nerd has opened my mind. It’s been like doing acid — you see how all these different approaches work.
About Improv Therapy:
Improv Therapy is an honest and insightful book about the things improvisers don’t want to discuss: their feelings. Written by Jimmy Carrane, host of the Improv Nerd podcast, Improv Therapytakes a look at the improviser’s mind and what blocks improvisers on stage, and gives them practical advice to overcome their issues so they can become the improviser they always dreamed of being.
About Jimmy Carrane:
Jimmy Carrane is the host of Improv Nerd and co-author ofImprovising Better: A Guide to the Working Improviser and Improv Therapy: How to Get Out of Your Own Way to Become a Better Improviser. His Art of Slow Comedy class won the 2012 INNY Award for Best Comedy Class/Workshop. A well-known improv teacher, Jimmy has taught at The Second City, IO-Chicago, and The Annoyance and he currently teaches classes at Green Shirt Studio and Stage 773 in Chicago. He was also an original member of The Annoyance Theater and Armando at iO Chicago, and has performed in some of Chicago most innovative and ground-breaking long-form improv shows, such as Jazz Freddy and Naked< (a two-person one-hour improvised scene with MAD TV’s Stephanie Weir.) His other theater & improv credits include: I’m 27, I Still Live at Home and Sell Office Supplies,Godshow,Every Old Man,Living in Dwarf’s House and Summer Rental at The Second City, e.t.c. For more information on Jimmy, please visit www.jimmycarrane.com.
Nick is Camp Director and Founder of Improv Utopia an improv retreat for adults in California and Pennsylvania. He is also one of the founding members of the National Improv Network and performer and teacher at iO West as well as member of The Sunday Company at The Groundlings. He has also taught many workshops around the country. We are always looking for better ways to serve the community. Drop us a line and let us know what you want.