By Rachel Galvin
If you have ever been stricken with fear at the idea of speaking publicly in front of a crowd, or just being on stage period, then Improv is for you. Aside from Toastmasters, which is another excellent organization, doing Improv is a great way to get your feet wet in the world of performing, whether you are an actor or need to do a business presentation. Doing Improv is an opportunity to be free and explore a part of yourself you may not have even known you had inside you. Plus, it is a great chance to laugh and learn with many new friends.
Improv is also an excellent tool for those pursuing film or theater. Sometimes, a director will ask you to Improv a scene in a film, or even for an audition. Being prepared is always paramount and having one more thing to put on your resume is a plus.
If you are thinking of getting involved in Improv, there is a place to go just around the corner in Boca Raton. The company, which started in 2012, is called Sick Puppies Comedy. They offer five different levels of classes from beginner to expert, as well as stand up classes, sketch comedy, and more.
“Our beginners Improv class is titled ‘Permission to play,”’ said one of the founders, Casey Casperson. “We do a lot of exercises that help you come out of our own head. Word association, movement, music and silliness are incorporated early to teach everyone that if one person does something weird, they look like an a**. If everyone does it, it’s art. So let’s make art together. We get into some scene work and, toward the end of the series, we start to dive into [Improv] games.”
He added, “The majority of students take Improv classes to overcome some sort of fear or shortcoming regarding presentations or public speaking,” he clarified. “The main benefit is that it provides you the confidence in yourself to know that you are enough. Everything you need to be the best version of you is right there, inside your mind. Improv teaches you to trust your instincts and helps you understand your point of view and, most importantly, the point of view of others.”
Casperson works primarily with Sick Puppies, but sometimes is asked to do a guest set with other casts. There are other troupes in South Florida. He also teaches companies how to improve themselves through Improv.
“Improv lets me explore all of my emotions, premises, theories and ideas. I can be anyone that I want and say anything that I think that the character believes to be true,” he said. “Improv is always opening night and closing night. But the main thing that keeps me coming back for more is our cast. These are the best people on the planet. Improvisers are collaborators. We want to work together to make incredible art.”
Another founding member Aniela McGuiness agrees with that sentiment.
“To see someone follow their dreams by creating a space and teaching others to follow their dreams is awe inspiring, and that is exactly what Casey Casperson did with Sick Puppies Comedy,” said McGuiness.
Sick Puppies also holds a lot of special events in which people can watch and interact. The troupe has a special event called “The Other World” show on Sept. 17 in which the cast develops an alternate parallel universe and creates a series of narratives that make you ask “If this is true, what else is true?” On Sept. 24, they are creating “The Play,” an Improvised play from start to finish based on one word suggestions. This is a way for those seasoned in Improv to practice and show off their stuff, and have a lot of fun with the audience in the process.
“Improv is for everyone. It’s not about being funny because, if humans are acting honestly, they are naturally funny. Improv teaches you to be a better listener, a better friend, a better companion, a better soul. If everyone could be the best version of themselves and stop judging their thoughts, we would have an incredibly productive and funny world,” said Casperson.
Their next beginner’s Improv class is Sept. 21. Sick Puppies Comedy is located at Center Stage at 7200 W. Camino Real #330, in Boca Raton. For more information, visit www.sickpuppiescomedy.com.