How Improv Changed My Life – The Leslie Knope Effect

Welcome back to How Improv Changed My Life for this month only i am going to be writing a few more articles about how improv has had an impact on my life. This may sound like a really random named article to start off with but if i am honest I think it is a topic that is relevant, not just because Leslie Knope is played by improviser Amy Poehler but because of what the Leslie Knope character representrs.

I was watching Parks and Recreation recently and i realised something, I have a lot of similarities to the character Leslie Knope. Work is my life, not because it has to be but because I absolutely love what I do. I didn’t just fall into my career I worked hard to get where I wanted to be and just like Leslie I get very excited about both the small edits and the huge. I love editing and creating a story and i get very excited even when i get praised or asked to fdo the smallest edit for broadcast. I also find that just like Leslie, I can really let things get into my mind and play on my brain and not able to escape a lot. I am someone who loves to multi-task and really try and give a hundred and ten percent into everything that I do. Also like Leslie, I can take failure personally and be very hard on myself but I am always happy to dust myself off and start again.

When thinking about Improv, I think I naturally approach it with the same sort of enthusiasm. Right from the get go, I delve in with all the enthusiasm in the world and a smile on my face. It is not a fake smile it is 100% real, I really love improv and I adore what it does to me and makes my buzz i suppose a bit more ‘buzzier.’ The one thing I think I adore about improv is the capabilities that it has allowed me to have.

When I did improv in Newcastle, you didn’t need a troupe instead there was always shows that you could get involved in instead. When I first moved down to London I found that everything worked completely different and you had to be in a troupe to perform as much as you want.

When I first moved back, this felt like I was diving into a shark invested deep ocean – it seemed impossible – how was I going to find a group of people that will want to perform with me or even form a group. It was a good couple of months before I decided to take matters in my own hands and suggest a troupe forms out of the improv members of a course I just finished.

A year and a bit later and the line up may of changed but the troupe is everything I wanted in a group – we get on well, we have a show concept and more importantly we all get on really well together. I don’t know whether it is because I like to push my creativity but I feel that as a group that we like to push one another enthusiastically into trying to do different styles of promotion. The one thing we love doing as a whole group is creating spin off or new twists on games, it is always fun trying to work out how a game could work.

I find that improv to me, especially with my troupe is sort of like how Leslie feels about Waffles – it is everything. It brings me so much joy, they make me laugh, they make me smile, when life gets a bit too intense they take me away from all of that. They allow me to build and develop as a person and also go along with me when I have a wacky idea. They are great and without them a part of me would be missing and I wouldn’t be ‘Holly frikin’ Bartlo’ (yes I just stole that from Parks and ‘your Leslie frickin’ Knope.’)

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