Today is the anniversary of something that changed my life dramatically. On January 6th 2009, I sent a response to an advert on Gumtree, advertising the weekly MissImp improv jam. I’d already checked out the MissImp website, was looking for something drama or writing-based to after moving to Nottingham and decided I’d give improv a go. I’d not done any improv since I was 16 – more than half a lifetime ago – so I really didn’t know how it’d go. I’d ended up googling for improv in Nottingham after seeing Tina Fey doing some improv on YouTube with the Upright Citizens Brigade (taken from a UCB show they did for television).
I got an email back the same day from the lovely Charlotte inviting me to learn some basic techniques in a Tuesday group. I remember having fun, wanting to learn more and wanting to eventually join the Thursday group as there were only about four of us on Tuesday. “I don’t think I’ll do both though. Twice a week might be a bit much” – oh how things change.
The first show I saw was “The Knights Of Jamalot” on Saturday 24th January. I met all the players in the pub afterwards and said I’d definitely be along on the following Thursday. From that moment I was hooked. The anticipation before every Thursday was incredible. I didn’t want jams to end.
March 2009 and I made it into my first show – an elimination show but somehow I made it to the end of the first half and was allowed to play in the second half. I still don’t quite know how that happened but, to be fair, the scoring system was a bit complex so it was probably a maths error.
January 2010 and I take my first trip to the UCB Theatre in New York and get exposed to longform improvisation for the first time. I still count this as one of the best weeks of my life. It was that moment where I realised that this was what I was always meant to have been doing as a human. This was “my thing” – it was what made sense to me. I was an improviser and the immersion of a week of intensive improvisation made me realise this.
Since then I’ve been back to the UCB a couple of times, we’ve flown a couple of UCB teachers over to teach MissImp and last year I spent time at The Annoyance Theatre in Chicago learning from the people who taught my comedy heroes.
This year I’m starting a new two person improv comedy collaboration with Jenny Rowe from The Maydays, arranging more of our “Consenting Partners” shows, teaching another set of beginners, intermediate and advanced courses for MissImp and travelling to do workshops in Bristol and Lancaster in the next couple of months too.
All this from a moment of curiosity on the internet on January 6th, four years ago. I couldn’t have imagined the journey on which I was about to embark. Thank you MissImp – I can’t express how incredible it has been so far.