“One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four …” The voices are in unison. I stare around me; these are the people I’ve known for a year. We’ve met three times every week in the College Center at Crozier-Williams to practice improv. We’re N2O, the short-form improvisational comedy group at Connecticut College and it’s our first show of the year.
The warm-ups are done and the rituals begin: we sit in a circle and talk, and have quiet moments to prepare. Each one of us is nervous — this is also our first combined show with the long-form comedy group on campus, Scuds. A lot rests on this show because we have auditions the day after and we want a good turnout. We want some of the spectators to show up because the people who often think they’re not funny are actually the funniest.
I joined N2O last year in the beginning of September. I heard about the auditions from a friend and almost didn’t make it. In those first few days after Orientation, you run around like a headless chicken and want to join everything — and that’s good, because that’s how you discover things you never knew you were good at. How was I to know that my inherent awkwardness and desire to engage with even the most minor of things would translate to improv? I got to the auditions, however, and I was scared. So many people were so good. The members of the group were informal, though. They could have been ruthless but instead, they were the kindest, nicest people I’d met yet. I got called back and I joined improv.
Joining a club is not just a time commitment, it’s a commitment of spirit. In an English seminar I’m taking this semester, “The Teaching of Writing,” I had to analyze my own writing process in a fair amount of detail. When I got to the end of the paper, I realized that my writing is influenced by improv. I’m committed to the principles of “yes” “and” (agreeing and adding on, to make the scene work) and it’s honestly made me a better writer and storyteller. Even in my personal life, improv has made me more direct, but also better able to engage with the absurd and the fantastical. Between the number-counting and the limb-shaking of a warm-up before a show, I feel immensely glad that I tried something completely new and it paid off.