How Improv Changed My Life – Are You Happy?

In the middle of March, it was International Happiness Day – i don’t remember the day day being the most happiest (not that it was bad it was just a day of train delays and plans not going to plan – but there was musical improv so that made it all better) it got me thinking as everywhere I went I saw the words ‘What Makes You Happy?’

Now, there are sooo many ways I can break this down and I am going to –

What Comedy Makes You Happy?

1 Lee Evans – his stand up is sort of like a comfort blanket to me and will always make me laugh no matter what

2 Karl Pilkington – I can listen to the podcast over and over again without ever getting bored it makes me laugh every time.

3 The Big Bang Theory – I can watch this over and over again and it will always make me laugh. I may know most episodes inside out, but they never get boring. Ever.

4 James Acaster – His Stand Up, his books, his scrapes, James Acaster is so quirky that he can make me laugh at anything in regardless.

5 Friends – it never gets old, it is just pure silly and always makes me laugh all these years later.

There are so many other lists I could break down happiness to but instead I will do a generic what makes me Happy list.

1 Family and Friends – they always make me happy and everyday one of them will put a smile on my face

2 Travel – I am most happy when I am tavelling to a new country and seeing new areas I have never been to. I love travelling. The travel bug slithers through my veins.

3 Music – This is one of the things that makes me the most happiness – combine that with a good adventure travelling then I am in my limit! As much as comedy is a huge part of my life now, music has been and always will be my first love.

4 Reading – If i have a good book then I am a very jolly Holly. I love escaping into a good book, especially if it is one I cannot put down. Recent reads that have made me very happy include Sherlock Holmes, Sekret Machines and Lucifer Box combine that with number 5 and that is the dream.

5 Good Tea – and i mean good tea. Not wishy washy, not weak, bold, strong and a good flavour, I am so fussy with tea but if you have a good brew, the world seems like the best place.

6. Improv.

Now, this is an improv based article so come one, you were expecting this to come up! From the first day of being taught Improv it brought a huge amount of happiness into my life – a sort of happiness I guess I haven’t really experienced from a hobby before and it felt like it had sort of filled a gap in my life I never knew was there.

The whole two and a bit years that I have been doing improv, I have felt a sense of happiness, the musical improv imparticular takes me to a place that is like euphoria – I flipping love it! I also love short form – i love the silliness and the wackiness that it brings.

Short form has always brought me so much joy as it is a great sense of release and just makes me happy to be an idiot. I have had a lot of funny looks from a few people in the improv community before because I am not a fan of Longform improv and I always used to worry people judged me for it.

Well, no not really, I judged myself for it. Everyone around me was loving longform improv and really getting into the gist of it. I nebver havce done a full eight week course on it and this is the reason why. I used to go to drop ins a lot – mainly because they were conveinient I used to go to Longform ones. In drop ins you tend to focus on different skills and areas each week.

The whole time I went i felt a sense of guilt – I wasn’t enjoying it. I tried my hardest to dive in and do everything that was asked with a big smile, but deep down I felt this sense of loss, missing short form improv. The problem with London is, apart from the odd drop in by The Maydays and the odd course, there are not many short form drop ins and I was sorely starting to miss short form so i signed up to an 8 week advance and still ended up back at drop ins after.

There is nothing wrong with long form its just something I can’t physically enjoy. Last summer, the opportunity came up to join a long form improv troupe – they wanted me to try out and audition – so i did.

I went to a number of rehearsals and whilst I learnt alot and learnt the functions of a Harold, i still wasn’t really that into it. Punderstandably had just lost two members due to visa issues and the futuire of the troupe was looking bleak so i delve into this other group. I sort of I suppose if it was a relationship ‘settled’.

Now, when I say ‘settled’ i want to clarify something – it was not the people – i really liked the people that were part of the group, they are a great bunch of people and really liked their company but the actual ideologies of long form i wasn’t enjoying. I really missed Punderstandably. I wasn’t sure what the future held but i thought instead pof wallowing in sadness I would message the only other member left, James.

The great thing was that he wanted to carry on as well, the other James had been to a few of our rehearsals and this time round he said to me he was basically all in committed. Caroline I had met through the long form drop ins and whilst she hadn’t really done a lot in short form she really wanted to join a troupe and give it her all.

I went to an improv Picnic not really looking for improv members, i only went to have fun and meet more of the community and that is how I found Mike and ex-member Ben. From a few brief conversations with them i saw the enthusiasm that both me and James had and I knew that they could be great additions.

Jump forward to the present day and I am in a place in improv where I am really happy where things are. I don’t do long form anymore and whilst I do a lot of improv solely with my troupe I do go to lessons if it somethng i want to do. I don’t feel the pressure anymore to do a lesson because it is the norm. Instead, I only choose lessons that interest me. Musical improv has been the best thing I have done in recent months and I want to do so much more of it. Team Punders are reaching for the stars and constantly trying new things so that we push ourselves whilst also having alot of fun.

Improv makes me happy. As long as it is isn’t long form and I stick by that no matter how many people I upset along the way.

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