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Charlie Jackson and Viki Jackson on stage performing improv comedy

Why I started improv and how it’s made me a better human

  • by Viki Jackson

The hardest thing about improv is starting it in the first place. Here’s how I started and how it shaped me into a better human.

Charlie Jackson and Viki Jackson on stage performing improv comedy

I first heard about improv nine years ago. I was at a night called "fuck ups" with Charlie. He was doing his master's in entrepreneurship and I was following him around networking events for the free snacks and booze (irrelevant information but I feel it sets the scene). One of the speakers was saying how improv had helped her overcome a particularly bad stand up gig she had. It had given her confidence in thinking on her feet. I thought it sounded interesting but not something for me. Charlie however found a beginners course and signed up the next day. I watched him do the course, sign up to level 2 and even start to form a group. I still didn’t feel like it was something for me. It sounded scary. I was shy. I didn't want to get better at speaking out because it sounded hard. Also, I'm not funny. I never wanted to be funny or a comedian or anything that involved choosing to put myself in front of a group of people in hopes of entertaining them.  Improv just didn’t sound like something that fit me. A year later, Charlie encouraged me to just try out a beginners class. It was only 8 weeks, it was only once a week. Also, if I didn’t like it then I don’t have to go to all the weeks. He also sold it to me as something to do in the evenings that wasn’t just coming home and watching TV or sitting in a pub. It was a way to meet new people, it was a reason to meet new people. So I signed up. 

My first class was surreal. We bounced about in the hall of a primary school doing things like naming objects we pointed at and walking with our left shoulder leading. I think there was even a game of duck duck goose in there somewhere. But it wasn’t hard. Except for the initial walking into the room, it wasn’t scary. And I didn’t have to be funny! My teacher, the amazingly kind Katy Schutte, was so patient and welcoming. She made everyone feel so encouraged. Throughout the 8 weeks Katy taught us that it was okay to make mistakes, things work better when you build on what other people say and you don’t need to overthink things - speaking on instinct is great! Since that class I’ve done a number of courses with various different schools and along the way improv has shaped me into being the enthusiastic, confident and positive person I am today. I’m no longer petrified of speaking up in work meetings or worried when I walk into a room of strangers. I’ve also met a ton of wonderful people too - I think something about the improv lessons makes improvisors a super kind and lovely bunch. All in all improv has really improved my life and now I’m super keen to try and introduce it to others too. Check out our training page to see what taster sessions and courses we’ve got coming up.

If you are thinking about signing up and have any questions or want to chat before then email me at viki@playface.fun


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