Embrace Your Community

One of the biggest pieces of advice we can give about starting an improv theatre in a small town is you have to love your city. That may sound pretty simple or naïve, but stick with us here. What we mean is, you need to embrace everything about your town for good or bad. We live in a small rural town in Southern Utah called Cedar City. At first glance it might not seem like the kind of place an improv theatre would do well in. It’s the kind of town where nothing is open on Sunday or after 10pm on the weekdays. However, it’s home to a University and has a small but thriving arts community. We used all this to our advantage. We took all the negatives and turned them into positives. For example, one of the biggest negatives about our small town is the fact that choices are limited. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard people say, “there’s nothing to do in Cedar City.” The advantage this gave us is we created something to do that quickly became a staple of entertainment, especially for the University students. Now when we hear someone say there’s nothing to do, we say, “have you ever seen Off the Cuff?” Another negative of our small town is they tend to fear change. This is where patience paid off big time for us. While the University students were quick to welcome us the town itself was a little reluctant. We realized that this feeling all came from a fierce loyalty to Cedar and we needed to prove ourselves. We accomplished this in two ways. We stuck around and continued to grow and we got involved in our community. Getting involved was huge. We do workshops with the local high schools, we volunteer at city events, we participate in the parades, and we get our name out there. It took a while, but we’ve been able to form connections and friendships that have helped us out more than we say. The more involved in your community you can be and the more you support local businesses the more they will, in turn, support you.

Go outside your town and network.

The great advantage to living when we do is how easily we can access information. It’s so easy to see amazing improv and find a lot of great information on the web that can help you stay current and fresh with your improv and always keep you moving forward. Off the Cuff has benefited so much from taking opportunities like the National Improv Network and Camp Improv Utopia. As a small community these types of things allow us to get connected and make our community better. Nick’s post about a rising tide raises all ships is very true for us. The more the word about improv gets out and the success of improvisors gets more mainstream smaller communities will grow and larger communities will prosper.  This is a huge. It’s really easy for your troupe to fall into patterns that limit growth, especially when the only improv you see is each other. OTC makes it a point to go outside our community as much as we can. We love to travel to festivals and theatres to see other shows so we can broaden our horizon. This is crucial, it’s so easy to get stuck in a rut and become complacent when you’re the only gig in town. In order for you to remain current you need to see what else is out there, take every opportunity to go to a festival, watch shows in person, meet other improvisers, take workshops so you can bring back to your theatre the best information out there. Through this you’ll also meet the most incredibly talented and giving people in the world who are so eager to help you in anyway they can. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take advantage of the knowledge of those who have been through professional training and love improv as much as you do, they are so happy and willing to help. Off the Cuff would not be where it is today if it wasn’t for some amazing people that have helped us in so many ways and those people accepting us with open arms into their communities thus making our community bigger and better.

Strive to be better and be proud of who you are.

As a small community, NEVER become complacent. You have to drive yourself to want to improve and practice. Just because you might be the only improv group and the area doesn’t mean you are the best. Keep your ego in check, which sometimes in a smaller community might be harder because the audience only sees you perform and doesn’t have all the options a larger community might have. At the same time, don’t let your ego tell you the opposite that your group doesn’t know what they are doing and improv in larger communities is better just because it’s from a bigger city. Be proud of your work. There is a term called “farm-prov” thrown around in larger communities that refers to improv groups from smaller communities. “Oh great, here’s another farm-prov group from nowhere.” Embrace that term! WE ARE FARM-PROV! Watch us take that suggestion, help it grow into characters, relationships, themes and scenework and harvest the laughter! (By the way does anyone want to go to festivals as a group called farm-prov and dress up like hillbillies and totally kill a show with us?) Small communities rock! That being said, we are all part of a larger community and the more we as improvisors, theatres, festivals, friend’s, and foes embrace this it’ll do nothing but grow.

Make goals that are realistic and be ready to go beyond them.

We always have a clear vision of what we want to accomplish and what we think we can accomplish. We budget our money wisely and think business decisions through thoroughly. When we set goals for OTC we make two lists: what we want to accomplish and what we know we can accomplish. Both remain on the table at all times. We first try to accomplish the goals we know we can. We make it a point to not put the cart before the horse. That being said, in a small town you have to create opportunity for yourself and this requires doing some things before you’re ready. If we tried to accomplish only what we thought we could, we would never be as far as we are now. For example, when we decided we wanted to host a festival, we had no idea what we were doing. We didn’t live in a big town where there are already improv festivals or even festivals close by. We had never run a festival before and had only participated in one. We asked for advice from people we knew who went to festivals often and we went for it. We had no clue how to accomplish that goal but had we waited until we were ready, there wouldn’t be a Red Rocks Improv Festival at all. We always think ahead to next year, we never close ourselves off to the option of changing the festival, and this mentality has helped us improve. Each year our festival gets bigger and we learn more about what we can do to make it the best it can be. We remain flexible and ready to change but always have a vision and a concrete idea. Remember that there are amazing opportunities out there. You might have to look a little harder for them and work a little harder to make them happen but it’ll pay off.  In a small town where improv is not established, you’re going to be the first to do a lot of the things. Being the first at anything requires a huge leap that takes quite a bit of courage and faith. You have to take the leap and learn how to fall as you’re falling. Creating an amazing strong improv community in a small town is a lot like doing improv, first you say yes then you figure it out as you go.

Guest Bloggers: TJ and Wendy Penrod

Tj and Wendy are the Founders and Artistic Directors of Off The Cuff Improvisation in Cedar City, Utah. In January of 2014 they will be celebrating 10 years as a company and this year marked their 4th Annual Red Rocks Improv Festival which has attracted troupes from all over the country to their small town.

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A Rising Tide Lifts All Ships

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When we started the idea of the National Improv Network one of our goals was to help all improv theaters grow and succeed. As it is improv is not really widely known to the general public. To the improvisor shaking his or her head right now, you know your Mom thinks you still do stand-up. It’s true, we know what it is because we live, breath and sleep improv. But if you go do interviews on the street asking what they think improv is, I can guarantee their either going to say Stand-up or Whose Line is it Anyway.

Our philosophy is this, A Rising Tide Lifts All Ships. This means that working together for the common good of our art will only make each company grow and succeed. That since the general public isn’t aware of improv, working together to bring awareness, such as putting on an improv festival or going out together in your community is a great way to bring awareness, thus bringing more audience to all theaters. You’d think with a community that is so embedded in the yes and club it would be the way all over the place. It’s not. In my travels I’ve heard  and witnessed some communities that have drawn battle lines, poach players from each other, have non-compete clauses, where players can only play at their theatre and it makes me frown. If you only understood that following the improv philosophy of yes and is the way you should be conducting your business. We are not a corporate entity we are a community of people. I get that some companies are considered corporate improv, but we can’t treat it as you would like running a Walmart.

A perfect example is Los Angeles. There started out being only 2 improv theaters when I first moved out there, now there is probably 7 to 10. Could be more, they’re popping up everyday. Having all these improv theaters in town has only grown improv and brought more awareness to the general public. When I started at iO West in 2001, we only had one theater to perform in and maybe our friends came to watch. Fast forward to 2013 and we perform in front of sold out crowds and there are three theaters running at iO West and UCBLA always has a line out the door. There’s enough to go around if you create the awareness.

This may not apply to you, I honestly think it’s a small percentage of communities, but still if we all work together, if we are all the tide that makes all our ships rise the world will have to know who we are and what we do. After all aren’t you tired of your Mom asking you how your stand up is going…No Mom I do improv!

Nick Armstrong

Nick is the Camp Director and Founder of Improv Utopia an improv retreat for grown ups. He is also one of the founding members of the National Improv Network. We are always looking for better ways to serve the community. Drop us a line and let us know what you want!

Take a Break! Don’t Forget About Life!

“Improv is a life art so go experience it”

RelaxI see a lot of improvisors get burned out. Hell, I get burned out too.  You have to remember as an improvisor part of your learning experience and your rehearsal is the things you do in life. If you’re performing onstage all the time you are forgetting about the outside world. I’ve been there, three rehearsals, two shows and coaching and then you’re like, “Wow, where did my week go? I’ve been at the theatre every night.

TAKE A BREAK!

I think every improvisor should take a break from shows every once in a while. Think of it like a sabbatical. This will re-energize you and get your head away from performing for just a little bit and get you in touch with the world around you again. Being totally immersed into something is okay at first, but in improv you just have to take a step back. Improv is a life art. Part of what informs your improv is your experiences offstage so if you’re missing that your work may plateau. I often hear improvisors saying, “I think I’ve plateued.” It’s usually because they’re a student in the middle of classes they’ve been taking over the course of a year, or a vet who is doing everything improv from coaching, performing and rehearsing.

HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO BE AWAY FROM IMPROV?

There’s no answer to this. You could just take a week or maybe even a month. It’s really up to you. But read some books, go camping, catch up on your favorite shows, hang out with friends that you haven’t seen in a while that are outside the improv world. Think of it as a summer break so that when you come back to improv it’s like you’re going back to school and seeing all your old friends again.

Improv is meant to be fun and if you’re not having fun onstage and it just becomes work, then you need to take some time off. Improv isn’t work it’s art. So take a break, go have fun, live life for a little bit and then come back and get ready to have some fun!

Nick Armstrong

Nick is Camp Director and Founder of Improv Utopia an improv retreat for grown ups in California and Pennsylvania. He is also one of the founding members of the National Improv Network. We are always looking for better ways to serve the community. Drop us a line and let us know what you want! For more information visit: http://www.nickarmstrong.com or http://www.improvutopia.com

Red Rocks Improv Festival Combines Improv and The Great Outdoors!

547231_611653305522623_1019168721_nI just got back from Cedar City, Utah and I have to say I’m impressed! Off The Cuff Improvisation, which will be celebrating its 10th year in the small city, put on the 4th Annual Red Rocks Improv Festival. The festival was filled with improv performances from all over the country, workshops and wonderful trips to Cedar Breaks and Zion National Park where improvisors had the chance to hike and bond!

Tj and Wendy Penrod are the force behind the festival and OTC Comedy and have been since its inception. This year Red Rocks decided to partner with NIN and use our submission service to help gain some more exposure for the festival and it worked! Gaining improvisors from California all the way to New York! Tj and Wendy have created an amazing improv community in Cedar City and are actively involved in the arts culture there.

Being such a small town with one main street…named Main Street, I had worried that it might be hard to get a crowd. Not here! Wendy, TJ and their OTC gang have done such great work out there building a community that both nights were filled to the brim with audience. This audience was hungry for improv too!

This years festival added and extra bonus. OTC Comedy rented a 15 seater van, we dubbed the party van, to pick us up and take us hiking to places like Cedar Breaks and Zion National Park. I went on the Zion National Park hike through The Narrows which is not just any trail, it’s a 90 percent water trail where you wade through water in narrow slot canyons! AMAZING! It was a great experience and a great way to meet and hang out with people from other improv communities. When we reached the end of our journey one of the OTC gang started to jump off a rock into a pool of water…everyone followed suit in support, some conquering their fears! It was such an amazing experience filled with community, friendship and fun!

So should you attend this festival? Yes! This is the perfect example of what a festival should be. They took the idea of bringing great shows to their community exposing their small town to big named groups while also taking care of their out-of-town guests and treating them to their beautiful surroundings! Someone asked recently “Why do you go to festivals?” This is why I go to festivals!

Nick Armstrong

Nick is Camp Director and Founder of Improv Utopia an improv retreat for grown ups in California and Pennsylvania. He is also one of the founding members of the National Improv Network. We are always looking for better ways to serve the community. Drop us a line and let us know what you want! For more information visit: http://www.nickarmstrong.com or http://www.improvutopia.com

Can I Have a Suggestion?

f139f95a49389299038c04dc0eeb-660x439Most improv teams start off with this very line in some form or another. It’s been on my mind a lot lately. It’s usually a word that is shouted out by an audience member to get the improvisors going on their way. Let’s dig deeper shall we and have a discussion.

Inspiration and 3rd Degree Choices:

A suggestion is a point of inspiration. You don’t have to hit it over the head. For instance, if your suggestion is Hammer, you don’t all have to start being a hammer or start talking about a hammer you can be construction workers on the job or a boss knocking the man down. (Hammer/nail metaphor). I call this my 3rd Degree Choice. When I get a suggestion from the audience, like Rose, the first degree of that is simply a rose, the second degree of that is garden or yard and the third degree of that could be love or beauty versus harm (Thorn and Rose) etc. What I’m trying to say is let’s dig deeper in our suggestion get to a deeper meaning that our show can hang its hat on. Love brings out certain emotions, beauty versus harm can bring out a great dynamic in your show at the very top. What if half the show had the POV of beauty and then we see that same first half done completely from the harm POV. That sounds pretty fun!

How do you get a suggestion?

We’ve all seen the standard, “Can I get a suggestion of anything at all.” That’s a fine one because we can be inspired by anything. When I was doing the JTS Brown we got a suggestion of a line of dialogue, poetry or song lyric. This inspired us because most of the time it had an energy or emotion attached to it that thrusted us into inspiration. Locations are fun and can definitely give you some sort of emotion or state. What do you ask for and how does it work for you or your team?

Feel a suggestion:

I like to tell my students to feel a suggestion instead of thinking about it. When a suggestion is hurled our way we often start thinking of what it is and then we are placed in our heads immediately. I like to say feel it. When you hear the word cabbage how does it make you feel? It makes me feel gross and yucky because I absolutely hate cabbage. So I might start an opening or a scene with that emotional state. Of course you might love it and start a completely different way, so the second scene or your part in the opening might be the opposite of my reaction and create a dynamic opening or the start of a dynamic show. There is no wrong way to feel about a word. Everyone is their own thumbprint of emotions.

Your suggestion is: Dildo!

Yes, we all get the inevitable suggestion of dildo at some point or something along those “Blue” lines. The best thing to do in this case is explore the third degree of it. One, a dildo, two, sex and three, sexual revolution. Give the jackass that gave the suggestion the best theatrical experience of his or her life by doing the best and smartest show possible. After getting a shitty suggestion it is one of the most fulfilling things ever to do a great, smart and funny show. We play to the top of our intelligence and this is one way to prove that to an audience.

Teams that don’t ask for a suggestion:

I know TJ and Dave don’t take a suggestion and still have amazing shows and I’ve seen some other teams do it too. I always felt the need to get one, so I felt connected to the audience. Thoughts?

I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way to approach a suggestion. Just some open thoughts on how I see them and would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Nick Armstrong

Nick is Camp Director and Founder of Improv Utopia an improv retreat for grown ups in California and Pennsylvania. He is also one of the founding members of the National Improv Network. We are always looking for better ways to serve the community. Drop us a line and let us know what you want! For more information visit: http://www.nickarmstrong.com or http://www.improvutopia.com

Improv Etiquette 101:H2NO!

no water botleIn this series of Blogs I will take you through why I believe Improv Etiquette is important and what it should be. I’ll try not to sound too much like an old man on a porch yelling at kids. I’m a reasonable guy, but do have some pet peeves that performers do. I think it’s important to take our art form seriously so hopefully this helps guide you. You can agree with me or not that’s okay these are just some guidelines that are pretty agreed upon by major improv theatres and veteran improvisers alike.

H2NO!
I was recently at an improv festival and I couldn’t believe how many performers brought water onstage.  They would do a scene and when the edit happened take a  swig of water, which then made an awful plastic crinkle noise, put it down onstage and started the next scene. Are you kidding? Now I’m staring at the water bottle! I can understand why stand-ups do it, it’s them up there shilling jokes. Improv is a theatrical experience and improvisors are the magicians. People come to watch improv to see something unique and funny and when you take a huge swig of water they remember you aren’t that magician you’re just another person shilling jokes. You can have water on the sidelines or backstage that’s cool, but don’t leave it onstage or drink it there you’re cheating yourself and the audience of theatrical experience.

Nick Armstorng

Nick is the Camp Director and Founder of Improv Utopia. He is also one of the founding members of the National Improv Network. We are always looking for better ways to serve the community hit us up!

16 Tips and Advice for Students of Improv

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“My mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier you’ll be a general; if you become a monk you’ll end up as the Pope.’ Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.” – Pablo Picasso

Students of Improv! You’re going to be okay! Art is hard! Long form is an art that requires patience. You will not get it overnight nor will you get it the next day. A typical 8 week class usually goes like this from a students POV, “I get it, Oh shit, I’m in my head, I get it! I’m lost, I get it, I hate improv I’m never going to get it, WOW I get it!” and so on. Oh this can happen to vets too, nobody is safe from the ups and downs of improv.

Below is a list of things to maybe help ease your fears and give you some friendly tips and advice to help you get through it all. Think of it as free improv therapy.

  1. You can’t be perfect at improv, so don’t worry about it.
  2. You’re not going to get it.
  3. You’re your own worst enemy.
  4. You’re going to live in your head for a while. It’s class you’re learning.
  5. There is no right or wrong so just try everything.
  6. Take direction. They are teachers for a reason.
  7. You’re not the best improvisor ever, you’re not the worst improvisor ever…there is no such thing.
  8. Don’t be someone else in class or do another improvisor, be you!
  9. Sure that guy/gal gets more laughs then you…who cares they do their improv you do yours.
  10. You’re never done being a student.
  11. There will always be a bad show, class or rehearsal no matter how many years you’ve been doing this. Grab a beer and walk it off.
  12. It takes at least 1000 shows and maybe you’ll start getting it.
  13. Play with people better than you.
  14. Watch shows, watch more shows and then when you’re done watching those shows, watch even more shows!
  15. Read, observe and live life. Don’t just be an improvisor.
  16. If you don’t get cast out of an audition it’s okay, do it again and again and again! Don’t give up.

I hope this helps you in your quest. Improv is a wonderful art filled with wonderful people. Probably the best people on Earth in my opinion. Remember, class is about trying to figure out who you are and what you can do. Performance is about trying to figure out who you are and what you can do too. So like Picasso, become the improvisor that winds up being you.

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Nick Armstrong

Nick is Camp Director and Founder of Improv Utopia an improv retreat for grown ups. He is also one of the founding members of the National Improv Network. We are always looking for better ways to serve the community. Drop us a line and let us know what you want! For more information visit: http://www.nickarmstrong.com or http://www.improvutopia.com

 

Improv Etiquette 101: You Don’t Have to Wear a 3 Piece Suit!

imagesIn this series of Blogs I will take you through why I believe Improv Etiquette is important and what it should be. I’ll try not to sound too much like an old man on a porch yelling at kids. I’m a reasonable guy, but do have some pet peeves that performers do. After all if you don’t care why should the audience. I think it’s important to take our art form seriously so hopefully this helps guide you. You can agree with me or not that’s okay these are just some guidelines that are pretty agreed upon by major improv theatres and veteran improvisers alike.

Are You Kidding?

Recently in an improv audition and more recently onstage I’ve seen more than one person wear shorts onstage…CARGO SHORTS TOO! Who needs that many pockets? We are doing theatre and people are paying to come see our shows, and even if they aren’t paying to see them, we still should have some respect for what we are doing. We need to take it seriously. Don’t wear shorts onstage. I’m not saying wear a 3 piece suit with a pocket watch, but I am saying at least wear nice pants and a button up shirt with no logos or your favorite band on them. Sure, I’m only covering guys on this but men are the biggest offenders of this rule in my experience.

Nick is an Actor, Improvisor and Writer living in Los Angeles, CA. On TV Nick is currently on AMC’s Story Notes and has been on the Emmy-Award winning shows The Office and Grey’s Anatomy. He has also made appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live and Parks and Recreation. Recently, Nick received a development deal for a TV Show he created for A&E.

Onstage Nick has trained at The Groundlings and iO West. You can catch him performing regularly at the world-famous iO West in Hollywood, CA on the famed genre-based group Kind Strangers and LA’s Longest and Critically Acclaimed Harold Team King Ten. Nick is also the Camp Director and Founder of Improv Utopia. And if that wasn’t enough, he is also one of the founding members of the National Improv Network. We are always looking for better ways to serve the community. 

Improv Competition: Healthy or Unhealthy?

17765_512x288_manicured__qnem5coi9kc5pxt8mjzdpa1Okay, so over the years I’ve received multiple e-mails, facebook posts, invitations and so on about voting for a specific team or theatre to either win an “improv award”, win “the best comedy theatre in (Name of City here) or come to their cagematch and vote for their team. I’d like to share a few thoughts on this:

Vote for My Theatre as Best Comedy Club in (Enter City Here)

I see this all the time, and somebody reading this probably has a theatre that has won it and is listed in their local newspaper as the champions of comedy in their city. I recently asked a good friend of mine, who won the award, if there was any benefit to winning it. Did they get any new audience? What did they get? He said, “No new audience, but they offered us a discount for advertising.” So let me ask you this, is it worth the time to clog up your social and theatre marketing, scrounging for votes to be listed? Will scrounging for these votes drive people away from your social media page? If you’re asking for votes that you’re the best comedy club in your city, does that mean you really are? Votes don’t equal great shows right? And if your Uncle, who has never been to a show votes for you is that a fair and honest practice?

Vote for my team for an Improv Award

Okay, this one kind of drives me a little crazy. If people like your team and your team’s work, they will nominate or vote for you, right? Wouldn’t it mean more to win knowing that each week you put on a great show and you had people that wanted to nominate or vote for you? If you win because a ton of your friends, who might even be in other cities and have never seen your show, voted for you and you walk up to the podium is that basically like rigging an election? I say win on merit and hard work not marketing for votes. Case in point, the Del Close Awards nomination submissions in Los Angeles have recently gone up, and when they did all I got was barrage of “Nominate my group for best team.” I’m okay with a little awareness of this awards ceremony as it is all in good fun, but when it becomes a campaign for votes it takes the fun out of it and takes the merits of the show away. Shouldn’t we want to win on our talent and merit? Should we even have Improv Awards?

Team Vs. Team: The Cagematch

Most every theatre has some sort of competitive improv competition, such as The Cagematch. This is where two improv teams square off onstage in an all out improv battle to the death. The rules are two teams do a show and the audience votes for the winner. That’s that thing, you see each team brings a billion of their friends and they vote for them and whoever has the most friends wins. It’s great for the theatre because it packs the house and that’s good, theatres like packed houses and that’s why Cagematches are popular. My friend and improvisor Kevin McShane from the long-running iO house team Trophy Wife once brought up a question, “Is there anyway we can just pack the house without doing a competition to get people there?” Me, I’m not a big improv competition guy, but I see why theatres do it. It gets people in the doors, buying drinks and it’s usually people that don’t watch improv as much. But what are you really winning as a team? I’ve seen shows where CLEARLY team A won, but team B brought more people so they ended up winning. I know life isn’t fair, but it just seems like a strange practice. In my earlier years in improv I did The Cagematch and I remember winning and knowing we had such a bad show compared to the other but still won. We felt awful. We felt ashamed. It was almost like you couldn’t look the other team in the face because they knew they had a stellar show and that our show was just average to bad.

In the end, I’m not for or against these practices and I see pros and cons to both, but I’m interested to see what everyone thinks about improv competition, is it healthy for the art or unhealthy, is it a necessary evil? We don’t have discussions set up on our site yet, but feel free to comment on Twitter and Facebook your thoughts on Improv Competition. I’d love to hear what you think!

About Nick Armstrong:

Nick is an Actor, Improvisor and Writer living in Los Angeles, CA. On TV Nick is currently on AMC’s Story Notes and has been on the Emmy-Award winning shows The Office and Grey’s Anatomy. He has also made appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live and Parks and Recreation. Recently, Nick received a development deal for a TV Show he created for A&E.

Onstage Nick has trained at The Groundlings and iO West. You can catch him performing regularly at the world-famous iO West in Hollywood, CA on the famed genre-based group Kind Strangers and LA’s Longest and Critically Acclaimed Harold Team King Ten. Nick has taught improv at iO West, Westside Comedy Theatre and has done workshops all over the country.

Nick is also the Camp Director and Founder of Improv Utopia an improv retreat for grown ups. He is also one of the founding members of the National Improv Network. We are always looking for better ways to serve the community. Drop us a line and let us know what you want!

For more information visit: http://www.nickarmstrong.com or http://www.improvutopia.com

I’m an Improvisor Offstage Too!

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I guess it’s not new news. I guess I’ve always known it, but I started thinking about it today and I realized that my offstage life and my onstage life have collided like the Higgs Boson. Here’s how:

Damn! I’m Not Perfect?

As much as I want to be perfect, I know that this is unattainable. Such is improv. You can get great at it but you’ll never be perfect. Otherwise, why would you keep doing it? Wouldn’t it get boring? If we say we are perfect, then we have nothing to reach for anymore and we could end up becoming stale and actually worse. I’ve seen people become content with their improv, hell sometimes I find myself doing it, but when that happens I force myself to change and find a new challenge. I guess when I’m 104 and on my deathbed I could lie there and say, ”I did it, I’m perfect.” It won’t be right, but I still might say it anyway. I will also probably not know where the hell I am, what I’m doing or who I am at that point. Strive for greatness, but don’t worry about being perfect.

I’m Human I Make Mistakes:

Sometimes I make big ones, sometimes ones I regret. But just like in improv a mistake can turn into a golden opportunity. I’ve found that the mistakes I’ve made have turned into opportunities for me to learn and become a better person. So I say bring on the mistakes! They can only make you stronger.

Support:

The world does revolve, but not around you. Yeah sorry everyone. I’ve always lived by the motto “Give back more then you get” Okay, so I ripped this off from my time as a Boy Scout. But I live by it. In improv it’s never about you, it’s always about connecting and supporting the group and achieving that group mind. I believe this is a great attribute to take with you offstage, whether it’s at your work, helping someone across the street or supporting a cause, you will find that support only makes the world a better place and makes you a better human being.

So, be an improvisor offstage too! Don’t stop being one once you step off that stage. Be one everyday, every hour and every minute. Commit to life just like you commit onstage, you’ll find when you don’t commit life and improv are much harder. If you do, I can guarantee you that the reward will be amazing.

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if Improvisors ran it?

Nick Armstrong

Nick is an Actor, Improvisor and Writer living in Los Angeles, CA. On TV Nick is currently on AMC’s Story Notes and has been on the Emmy-Award winning shows The Office and Grey’s Anatomy. He has also made appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live and Parks and Recreation. Recently, Nick received a development deal for a TV Show he created for A&E. 

Onstage Nick has trained at The Groundlings and iO West. You can catch him performing regularly at the world-famous iO West in Hollywood, CA on the famed genre-based group Kind Strangers and LA’s Longest and Critically Acclaimed Harold Team King Ten. Nick is also the Camp Director and Founder of Improv Utopia. And if that wasn’t enough, he is also one of the founding members of the National Improv Network.

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