“Yes” isn’t just an answer. In improv, “yes” does a whole lot more.
When performing, if an actor says “no,” the scene will end because it has nowhere to go. On the flip side, if you say “yes,” the scene continues. This is one of many fundamentals improv comedian Nick Morgan teaches during his Improv Comedy Classes at the Toledo Repertoire Theatre.
The Toledo Repertoire Theatre offers a chance for locals to practice and perform the same exercises and games that the professionals play. This form of comedy is familiar to audiences through shows like Whose Line Is It Anyway and Drew Carey’s Improv-A-Ganza. Though many have seen improvised comedy, they often do not realize how it is done.
“Improv comedy is a very general category of comedy where one or more people are on stage and rather than doing written material, they get a suggestion from the audience and create the comedy based on the suggestion,” explains Morgan.
An education in funny
Graduated from celebrated improv schools such as “Second City” and “IO Chicago.” Many famous comedians have graduated from Second City including Dan Aykroyd, Steve Carell and Tina Fey. Morgan is one of three Rep teachers, along with Erin Kanary and Martin Verni, both who have had similar training. Each session meets once a week for six weeks, and offers a showcase so students can perform in front of an audience. This may sound intimidating to many, but through practice with the instructor and classmates, fear can easily be overcome.
“There isn’t much fear involved when you think you may secretly be the next Ryan Stiles,” says improv student Bradley Hall. “But for folks who have fear holding them back, ignore that noise! Fear only stops you from accomplishing great (or hilarious) things!”
Exercising your humor
Similar to sports, music and other varying types of acting, fundamentals are taught first, then lessons are made more complicated once applied to different activities. The class slowly eases students into the process of improv comedy. They will first teach you how to think of ideas quickly, and then they will get you familiar with acting with one another. Lastly, the instructor will guide classes through improv games, encouraging them to take each scene one step further.
The beauty of taking a class like this in Toledo is that there is less pressure to succeed. Many students are not there to become a comedy sensation, though the tools provided there could help you achieve that goal, rather they are there for different reasons.
“Improv plays a very different role in people’s lives. It is first and foremost a social outlet. It is therapeutic,” said Morgan.
This unique quality encourages a wide range of performers to step forward and give it a shot, which creates an interesting dynamic for the cast, a rare component in larger cities, where comedy is more competitive.
“Improv is such an amazing intergenerational activity that fosters an appreciation of creativity and joy within each of our troupe members,” says improv student, Dana Martin-Hayden.
Improv is seen as intimidating or scary to many people. And these fears are justified due to the nature of comedy. The Rep is simply asking for you to take charge of that fear. Think like a comedian and say “yes” to continue the scene.
The Toledo Repertoire Theater Adult Improv Comedy Classes meets every Thursday from March 23- May 4. 6:30pm-8:30pm. $125. The Toledo Repertoire Theater, 16 10th St.,