Primer for new Austin improv graduates

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Primer for new Austin improv graduates

Postby happywaffle » November 12th, 2013, 11:17 am

Written after consulting with a few AIC compadres. Please let me know if you have any corrections, additions, or suggestions for change.

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So you’ve completed three or more levels at an Austin improv school. Yay! First, you’re awesome. Second, you’re now officially a part of (in my biased opinion) the best improv community in the world. And you might be wondering, what next? Many new improvisers don’t quite know how to become a part of the AIC as a whole and get to know the amazing, funny people outside their own classes. Here’s a few tips on how to get involved and keep being funny.

1. Join the AIC Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/austinimprov/. Kevin (that’s me!) posts daily listings for what improv shows are happening in town each night. It’s also a general-purpose group where people announce auditions, workshops, social gatherings, and other stuff of interest to Austin improvisers. Speaking of which, all of the AIC schools have Facebook groups of their own which are also good to join.

2. Watch improv. Use the daily listings and go see the amazing improv that people are doing all over town. You’ll probably discover styles of improv you didn’t even know existed. If you’re strapped for cash, many shows are free or pay-what-you-want.

This is all cool, but you still wanna actually DO improv too, right? Well…

3. Attend open jams and mixers. They’re everywhere! ColdTowne, The Institution, The New Movement, Merlin Works, and The Hideout all have weekly, monthly, or bi-monthly jams. Other informal jams tend to come and go, too. There’s lots of ways to get on stage and goof around with your fellow imps. Here’s a list of the current jams, and they’re announced in the Facebook group as well.

4. Apply for Maestro and Fancy Pants. Maestro is the longest-running show in the AIC, playing at the Hideout Saturdays at 10:00 since 2000. Every weekend, the casting thread is posted on the AIC forum and the Maestro Facebook group for people to sign up for that week’s show. It’s a great way to get experience being in a mainstage show (usually sold out!) and the Maestro format is very easy for a beginner. Maestro’s little brother, The Fancy-Pants Mashup, plays the first Friday of every month and has a similar sign-up process. (Fair warning, these shows can be very competitive to get into; don’t get discouraged if you’re not cast at first.)

5. Audition for shows. Auditioning for a mainstage show at The Institution, ColdTowne, or the Hideout is always a fun experience and, regardless of whether you get cast, a good way to meet and play with other people in the AIC.

6. Start a troupe or practice group. If you find a small bunch of imps that you click well with and want to try out a format, or just meet weekly to goof around, then go for it! If you decide you want to be a real live troupe, there are many talented coaches in the AIC who can guide you for extremely reasonable rates. (Committing to regular practice and submitting to the various theater schedules as they’re announced is a must.)

And finally…

7. Keep learning. Continue on to the next level at your own school, or try out another one. Every school in town offers a free class periodically, so you can get a feel for their style of play. Workshops, from Austin instructors or badass out-of-town improvisers, happen all the time around town and are announced in the Classes forum or on the Facebook group. There's also sketch and stand-up classes if you want to branch out.

It might seem scary or intimidating, or feel like you're not good enough. But the truth is that almost anyone can become a good, entertainingly watchable improviser. Put in the time with an open mind and you will improve! And the rest of us are rooting for you!
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