For the last couple months I’ve been part of a super-cool experiment called E-mprov, in which teams of improvisers from all over the world gather together online each week to do improv shows via Google Hangout or Skype.
E-mprov was founded by Terry Withers of the Upright Citizens Brigade, whom Jordan and I met by doing a Chinese Menu Comedy show together in DC last winter. I love that we traveled to DC to meet a fellow NY improvisor, but that’s kind of the point of E-mprov: It doesn’t matter where you live, you can still play together.
Jordan and I are on the same team, called Dangerous Alliance, along with four other people, all of who were strangers prior to this experience. They’re in Virginia (Dan Kois), Oklahoma City (Kristy Boone), Buffalo (Nora Hurley), and NYC (Pete Staiano), and every other Monday, we gather together online after wrapping up our workdays and putting kids to bed and washing the dinner dishes and we make shit up together. And it is SO MUCH FUN.
Truly, after all these years, doing improv still gives me the most fantastic natural high. And the fact that you can come together with strangers and just click right into it is a testament to the fact that it’s truly universal.
I won’t promise that all of our shows are transcendent, but we always have fun, and sometimes we hit that magic improv stride and create something I’m really proud of. You can go to E-mprov.com and check out archives of past shows. Here’s a clip from a scene Jordan and I did the other night, about a grandmother who loves podcasts (in the back of my head, I was thinking of this video that Ira Glass did with octogenerian friend Mary):
Honestly, I can’t emphasize enough how healing it is to have time carved out in my life to just fuck around. No agenda, no aspiration, just pure, raw, PLAY. In a Washington Post article I was reading earlier today about the importance of rest and downtime to creativity (and productivity), author Alex Pang advises,
“Practice what (sociologist) Robert Stebbins calls serious leisure – one really absorbing, rewarding hobby. That’s one thing that a lot of really creative people do, especially if their regular jobs are very busy.”
Improv is my version of serious leisure, and I’m so grateful to Terry and E-mprov artistic director Amey Goerlich for making it so easy for me to do it. Thanks, guys. Now if you could only figure out a way for me to get a massage via Snapchat, I think I’ll be all set.
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