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'Improv Is All About Saying Yes': Two Comedians On How Improv Has Changed Their Lives

Improv U Instagram
Improv U performs at the third annual Palm Beach Improv Festival on Thursday, Sept. 6.

Improv U, an improv school in Delray Beach open to people of all walks in life, is hosting the third annual Palm Beach Improv Festival on Sept. 6 to 9, where improv artists from across South Florida will perform and give workshops.

Anthony Francis, founder of Improv U, and Rebecca Loveless, a teacher at the school, joined Sundial to talk about the improv community in South Florida, their journey to improv in South Florida and how they use it in their daily lives.

WLRN: Rebecca, how did you get into improv?

Loveless: I was a weird art kid. I went to a University of Florida and studied art. I'm a tattoo artist now, but back then I was really quiet and my art teacher was like, 'Rebecca, you need to learn how to talk.' She suggested taking improv.

What was it like the first day you go went to a class? You're the quiet one, you go in there and you find out what improv is, then what?

I was scared. I was really scared, but a lot of it is trust. A lot of it is also looking at your partner and knowing that they have your back. That sudden freedom and team inspiration is very addictive.

Credit Improv U Instagram / Courtesy
Students from Improv U, an improv school in Delray Beach gather in a circle for an exercise.

What is a typical exercise for a beginner in improv?

The first thing we do is a clap circle. This is where we all gather in a circle, look into each other's eyes and clap at the same time.

Wait a minute, but I always thought improv is like giving a word and let's make a funny thing out of it?

It is, but so much of relating to people and how we speak day to day a lot of it is physical, eye contact and interacting with one another. A lot of body language.

Is improv about building confidence?

Yes and I'm a living example of that. I am a beast now. I am a very confident lady.

Anthony, what about you? How do you teach classes?

Francis: You make one choice, then you make another choice and then you make another choice. It's really about making choices with confidence and that's probably one of the most important lessons that people have to learn in improv. That's how we create something fun from nothing. An exercise I like to do with new students is say yes, yes to anything, then we do a scene together. The only thing you have to say is yes. All you're doing is supporting my choices and then when you decide to speak I say yes and I support your choices.

Rebecca, what do you tell somebody who is afraid to try improv?

Loveless: I say jump. I say do it for yourself. I say not enough people take a moment to do what is going to make me happy and to have the inertia to follow through on it. Just believing in yourself and know that it is a warm, fuzzy, pillow ready to embrace you. In improv, we're a tribe of people and every time we get one more student, make them laugh and share a moment...this is interacting with people and socializing with people. You are in a room filled with people that think that you are amazing and genuine. 

This segment was guest produced by Alex Gonzalez.

Francis and Loveless joined Sundial host Luis Hernandez for a Facebook Live.

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