say yes

April 12, 2017

 

In my last post, I talked about starting where you are and using your network. If you’re someone reading this who has made your own decision, committed to the pursuit of your new adventure, and found a way to support yourself, you’re already someone who sees the value in saying “yes” to this adventure we call life. We all make choices each and everyday. Be proud of yourself for going after what you want and for breaking old patterns that were holding you back. If you haven't fully said yes yet, what's holding you back?

 

When you starve your ego and listen to what your soul is saying to you, you stop settling for less. When you say yes to life, you gain so much more. It’s no wonder the whole basis of long-form improv is centered around the idea of “yes, and...” Saying yes to life allows you to become the hero of your own story, not worrying about the judgment of others because you understand that their life is theirs and your life is yours

 

So I wanted to do long-form improv comedy. It wasn’t easy getting to where I am now in my comedy journey and I have a lot to look forward to, but looking back, I'm super grateful for everything that has led me to where I am now. For the first year I lived out here, I couldn’t even get into a section of 101 at Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB). I would constantly check online for an open section to no avail, but that didn’t make me give up; it only motivated me more. If you really want something, you give it everything you’ve got. After a year of checking and rechecking and never finding a class that was both available (not sold out) and that fit my schedule, a 101 level class finally opened up at UCB that I could take! I jumped at the opportunity and never looked back.

 

My 101 class at UCB met on Friday afternoons. It was a brilliant way to start my weekend after I’d been nannying all week. In my very first class, my teacher - a very wise woman by the name of Marcy Jarreau - had us break off into pairs and do an exercise where one person proposed an idea and, at first, the other person flat-out responded with “no.” The second phase of the exercise had the respondent reply with “yes, but” to the proposed idea, indicating agreement with obstacles and limitations. The third phase of the exercise required a response of “yes, and” to whatever situation was proposed, which opened up a world of possibilities and discussion between the two scene partners and encouraged active listening in order to build their relationship and the world around them.

 

I have so many fond memories from that first class and the group of people with whom I experienced it. UCB has a policy that requires students to see two shows during the 8 weeks you’re in a class, but my 101 class started a nice tradition where we would all get pizza after class ended on Fridays and go see the Harold Matinee show together. Everyone was invited, and, for those of us who said yes and became part of that ritual, we saw more than the two shows required, forming a nice bond along the way. Improv is a supportive community made up of teams. I really loved that first team of people I met in 101. I haven’t kept in touch with all of them, but I did graduate that 101 class with one of my best friends in LA. And that friendship has so much value and support in it that I can’t help but be so grateful to UCB for being the thing that brought us together

 

Based on all that positivity and support, of course I was attracted to improv. As someone who firmly believes in a whole future of endless possibilities, it was in that very first class where I had my “this is where I belong” moment. And it was all because improv is based in the reality of “yes and...”

 

I blew through UCB’s core curriculum in a year, graduating from 401 in November of 2015. In 2016 I was presented the opportunity to work Saturday nights at the theater in exchange for free classes. I jumped at the opportunity and looked forward to earning my Advanced Study classes. In the 9 months I worked Saturday nights at UCB Franklin, I met so many great people, saw so much talent walk in and out the front door, and learned so much about improv and comedy and life. There were times I cleaned toilets, times I mopped disgusting food off the stage (Spam is absolutely gross FYI), and times where DMX’s “X Gon’ Give It To Ya” blasting at the end of a shift was the only thing that kept me going at 2:30 in the morning. And I wouldn't have changed a single thing about it. I wrote a piece right after I’d completed that Work Study experience, which you can read about here.

 

Want to talk about starving the ego and feeding the soul? It was also in 2016 that I took my first Musical Improv class, and pursuing Musical Improv is the single most rewarding thing I’ve done in the last year. In fact, it’s been so rewarding that I need to dedicate an entire post to it just to do it the justice I believe it deserves. 

 

So for now, I’m going to press pause on this track until my next post! And, of course, as always, if you have any pressing questions or if you want to discuss something further, feel free to subscribe below or reach out to me on the “contact” page. I’m here for you!

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Johny Walsh  |  Los Angeles, CA  |  Johny@JohnyTheGirl.com

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