“Look at those people. They’re dancing and they mean it. They’re friends with you and they mean it. These people mean everything they say and I’m lucky enough to be with them.” – a friend’s words I’ve paraphrased (cuz I was happy and tired and it was loud) at the UCB 2012 NYE party
Being a part of the growing UCB community in 2004 was pretty dirty. No really. The classes were in a super dirty room in NY with cockroaches and grossness. The people, however, were awesome. No one in my class had the ambition to be an actor. It was actually rare to find an actor in an improv class at that time. Most of the people in my class were lawyers or really shy and wanted to get better at public speaking. I did it because it was fun and I love making people laugh.
As the years went by and Anthony King became the artist director, the community exploded. I kept hearing about Armando Diaz and his eventé class and took that class with him while still studying at UCB. Then Armando opened up a new theater called The Magnet Theater. There were so many people that were trickling into the community, and when Magnet opened their doors, some of the “old school” improvisors started coming back to the stage (or at least becoming prominent on stage again).
I noticed of the strength and support of the community when I was hit by a car and thrown through a store window. (I feel like I tell this story every 2 minutes, please go here to read more about it or watch my music video.) My first visitor was my supervisor from work. My second visitor was one of my improv coaches/directors. She came alone, came back several times, went to my house, and gave me a couch to lay on because my other one had to be trashed. My next visitors was a couple more improvisors, then a couple more, then a group, then a couple more. Some brought gifts, all of them supported me just by being there and saying “you can do this!” “you’re so strong!” “I can’t believe you didn’t die!” The ER nurse said she had never seen so many visitors come through. After I was released from the hospital, improvisor friends continued to visit me at my apartment. I then learned that the night after the accident, they sent around a bucket after a show for donations to pay for cab rides to my doctor appointments.
My heart fills up every time I think of it, every time I see someone who visited me, who took the time to help out, who came up to me after and said “I know I didn’t visit because hospitals scare the crap out of me, but I’m really glad you’re ok.” These people are amazing. I may not still talk to all of them (or remember exactly who came to visit due to my concussion) but they all have a very special place in my heart. I knew I had friends at these theater, but I never really knew how much we really did mean to each other.
Now that I’m in L.A., it’s such a gift when N.Y. folks move out here and I run into them. And the L.A. improvisors from both UCB and iO West are so loving and filled with joy. It’s like they have smacked me in the head and said, “This is improv! It’s fun! Chill the eff out!” It’s another healthy, supportive community. I’ve been to a potluck improv party and SOOOO many indie shows, it’s awesome.
I’m grateful for all of you, even when I’m grumpy. Just tap me and remind me how awesome we are.