Why Improv Has Made Me A Better Person

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

As of yesterday, I am only three classes short of completing my first year at The Second City.
Seems like only yesterday I nervously walked to class and paced outside the building for a few minutes
because I didn't want to show up too early on the first night and look like a dork.
I remember I quickly snapped this photo before walking inside, because even at the moment I knew how lame I was for taking it.
My caption read "bottoms up."

Bottoms up, indeed.
After I finish my last class next month it's not over, far from it actually, it just gets a lot tougher.
Before moving on you have to audition for the next level known as the Conservatory.
Conservatory time = head shot time= me being uncomfortable posing for photos.
So even though I just wanted to take my own selfie in a bathroom mirror using an Instagram filter,
I knew I better call in a professional.
So yup, this little gal got herself some head shots.

Guess who just got signed by Gap Kids?! I did!
Jk, these are actually my photos for
America's Next Top hey-this-girl-looks-just-like-your-cousin's-girlfriend Model.
Enough. They're my comedy school photos. Nbd.
And don't you worry, I'm going to write a full recap on my little "modeling experience" next week,
complete with all of the information on the wonderful photographer who managed to make my awkward self feel pretty comfortable behind her big fancy camera.

For now, let's talk about my first year at The Second City and all of the crazy shit I did.
I've always liked to imagine what an outsider might think if they ever happen to accidentally stumble
upon an improv class.
On any given day in a classroom at the SC you can find people screaming, hugging,
building fake sand castles, running around the room with their eyes closed, jumping on chairs,
climbing the walls, zip zap zopping, because literally nothing is off limits.
We're basically only one rainbow wig and a red nose away from being a clown college.
But a very good clown college, the type that only lets the best in like Lesions the Clown.

I'm not sure why I decided after twenty five years it was time to take classes here,
I still don't even know what I'm hoping will come after all of this, maybe nothing.
But I will never regret the time I've spent at Second City 
because I know I'm a better person because of it.
-Tony Robbins -Taylor Wolfe
No seriously though, that's all me. And before you click away because you think I'm being
such a Matt Foley hear me out.

Why Improv Has Made Me A Better Person:

1. Yes and.
This is one of the most important rules of improv, it's the power of coming from a place "yes" rather than "no."
As humans, we have a natural instinct to want to reject rather than accept.
In improv, we learn to yes and everything.
For example if someone says, "hey, we're in a hotdog suit,"
rather than responding, "no, we're in a classroom," you say something like,
"yes, and it smells like relish."
Try being the yes-person sometime, it's a lot more fun.

2. Be in the moment.
If you're thinking about about anything else than what is present you're not fully living in the moment that is currently going on. And chances are you're probably missing out on something...
I still need some work on this one.

3. Listen, listen, and listen some more.
If you're not listening to every single little thing going on in your scene you're basically screwed.
Same goes for life. Talk less, listen more, you'll be amazed at how much this simplifies things.
And unless it's an emergency, don't interrupt.

4. Always work to make your scene partner look good.
This one reminds me of those couples you see out at a bar or something when there is always one person talking down to the other. I've never understood this. Why would you want to belittle your significant other? It makes no sense to me.
Just like in improv, you're only as good as you make your teammate look.

5. Be authentic.
That ones pretty basic.

6. Leave the judgement at the door.
This one has been a wee bit hard for me to grasp. Not because I'm judging others,
(well okay I usually am) but more times than not I'm judging myself.
And it has been super hard for me to leave my snotty self behind and just say what the hell and play the part of the dancing cat if that's what I'm supposed to do.

7. Go all in, or go home.
It's so easy to spot that person on stage who feels dumb so they're half-assing it because they don't want to look stupid.
They only look stupid because they're not giving it their all.
If you're a chicken, you're a chicken. Don't be the girl too cool to cluck.

8. There are no rules of improv.
Just like in life, everyone has got their own ideas. So you gotta be ready to adapt.
Every single teacher I've had thus far at both SC and IO has said something that contradicts the other,
and they fully admit to this.

Because that's how life goes,
 I suggest you embrace it and just hope for a good drink special.



  1. I love this!! I'm hearing some of the same things said by my instructor when I took improv...a long time ago. You really have to be free and open and not worried about what anybody thinks of you and those are all great things to do in life in general. Great head shot!!

  2. Good for you, you awesome weirdo!

  3. I like the head shot very cute. I'm all about number 7. I'm so not that type of person in life I'm super cautious and it's made me miss out on things in the past. Trying to be more all in!

  4. I loved this. Everyone should take into consideration all of the things you've learned at Second City. By the way, I'm a fellow Chicagoan so if you're ever performing let us know on your blog so I can come see!! Good luck with the next part of your journey :)

  5. Sounds like you have learned some amazing things at improv classes!

  6. "They only look stupid because they're not giving it they're all." This happens so much everywhere I think.

    Look at all these life lessons you've learned at school! And the "Yes and..."? So good for being with kids.

  7. This is awesome! I would love to do some Improv! Everyone tells me that I would be good at it because I am wacky, goofy, crazy-silly.. all of the above. I talk in voices, never miss a beat, and never break character. Congrats to you on finishing your first year.

  8. Love it! I'm so excited. And when you're on SNL one day I'll be like hey, I read her blog before it was cool. ;)

  9. these are great rules to live by. ps. love the glamour shot, can't wait to read about the model experience.

  10. Your headshot looks great, I can't wait to hear the story behind it!

    These are really all important life lessons. I personally struggle with number six but like you, I'm only judging myself and we can be our worst critics. Also, I think one of the most exciting parts is not knowing where you're going with it but doing it because you love it.

  11. Loved this! I think you are so brave and cool for doing this. I have always been really shy and this would scare the pants off of me, but I love reading all about it from you and living it a little bit through your eyes. The lessons were great as well, very truthful and honest.

  12. Girl I think you have the biggest balls EVA! I could never get up the nerve to do this! Yay for you following your heart's desires! Best of luck!!!!

  13. I want to experience a day in the life of "The Daily Tay"!

  14. I am so into this. It really could not be more true, I think everyone should have to take Improv classes to learn these things.
    Congrats on your almost graduation from classes! You will kick those conservatory auditions asses.
    I seriously hate taking head shots, but yours look amazing!! I can't wait to hear more about them.

  15. I genuinely love the head shot. And I want to do improv so I can be a better person, congrats on your first year!

  16. I'm going to be the YES person just for you! :)

  17. I love it! And I think your headshots turned out great!! Second City sounds amazing

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