Applied improvisation is where we use improv as a tool to teach and learn. The Bring a Brick podcast interviews professionals from all over the world who use applied improvisation in their work to discover how they use the ‘how’ of improvisation. I take the role of curious student, to learn how people teach and benefit from the unique values of applying improv. Teaching improvisation.
Jim Ansaldo is a Research Scholar at Indiana University Bloomington, a member of Comedysportz Indianapolis and an instructor at Camp Yes And, which teaches improv Teenager on the Autism Spectrum.
“Improv gives us a means for everyone to bring their life experience to the table”
I had the chance to catch up with Jim earlier this year in San Jose, California. We talked about his approach to teaching, and his work bringing improvisation to with children and teenagers with autism, and how it can be used to highlight and aid communication and interaction. We also touched on the broader aspects of improvisation as a tool in therapy, Jill Bernard mindfullness in improv workshop that we both attended and the legacy of Keith Johnstone.
Choosing to put comedy, illustration and my other disciplines on one website might sound obvious, but it was actually a really tough decision.
The term ‘jack of all trades’ is a phrase that has bugged me for years. I know it’s negative connotations and consider myself an optimist, but I’ve always thought I was one. A ‘jack of all trades…and master on none’. My thinking has been perhaps inherited from the previous generations. The received wisdom that focusing on one career to become an expert over time was the best way forward, and taking an interest in a few different things diluted time, effort and commitment .
Since going freelance as a designer and pro as a comedian I didn’t want a design client knowing I did comedy in case they thought I didn’t take the work seriously, or a comedy promoter to know that I did graphic design. I was terrified of not being seen as professional.
Old beliefs are very hard to shake. I previously had five different websites. One for comedy, one for design and illustrations, and more recently a podcast and training workshops. Each of these things had it’s own orbit and audience, with rare overlapping exceptions.
The fear of confusing people with ‘multi disciplines’ and not being able to answer the ‘what do you do’ question’ in less than four sentences was (and still is) a bugbear. However, I’ve known for years that diversity and adaptability are key to survive, and something just clicked. Listening to technology podcasts, reading Seth Godin books. Learning more about applied improv in my podcast. Finally something clicked and I’ve broken my old programming.
So here are ‘all my eggs – in one basket’. Better for me, better for google SEO and as I’m finding, people who come looking for one thing and find another and spend a bit of time on my website looking around. Isn’t the the point of a good website?
In this episode I recap what I’ve called ‘series 2’. The last eight interviews with some great people who use applied improvisation (improv, impro…that particular way of thinking and responding, and using mental agility). Beginning with Paul Z. Jackson and culminating with Pam Victor. There’s a wealth of information to be had, on a load of different topics, and I thank all the wonderful guests who gave their time.
Bring a Brick series 3 will be coming soon, after a short spring break.
Paul Z. Jackson is one of the founders of Applied Improvisation Network, we talked about his work and digressed on the topic of improvisation on television.
Mary T. Curtis works in behavioural health, coaching people with issues such as stress and anxiety and the YES AND, accepting and building in therapy.
Neil Mullarkey didn’t need any introduction. We chatted about the business of improv, story structure, character comedy and how to bring improv into a training session by giving examples. Loads in this one.
Adam St John Lawrence is a Customer experience consultant, who uses improv to generate ideas, break them and get better questions. Loads of great content here about understanding the world you’re selling to.
Dan Starkey is an actor appearing in television series such as Doctor Who, and insode No.9. We chat about how a foundation of improv can help an actor approach a role.
Cathy Salit is CEO of Performance of a Lifetime. Among the many thinks we talk about, Cathy explains her view on ‘performative psychology’ and how everything we do – our life – can be seen as a performance.
Paul Goddard is a coach in agile development and certified Scrum trainer. We touch on the geographical differences in recognition of improv in the US and UK and how improvisation can be applied to agile development
Finally I interviewedPam Victor onher ‘Zen of Improv’. Her mission it is to make the world a happier place through improv.