Building a Thriving Improv Community

Lessons from a Decade of Growth

Hello! I’m Anthony, and my journey as an improviser began back in 2012. By 2015, driven by a passion to teach and connect, I started my own improv classes. The first week, only five students joined, leaving me unsure about the local interest in improv. However, to my surprise, one session attracted 33 participants, signaling a much greater community interest than I had anticipated.

Since that pivotal night, we’ve embraced the growth and excitement of our improv community, organizing engaging events such as two improv cruises, multiple guest workshops, and shows featuring talented improvisers from across the country. Over the years, we’ve participated in more than 15 festivals, each one reinforcing our love for this art form and the community that surrounds it.

In our efforts to deepen these connections and expand our reach, we launched the Improv U online community on Discord. This platform has become a vital space for educational livestreams and events that not only connect us but also provide essential performance opportunities for improvisers at all levels. It’s a place where our members can share ideas freely and creatively explore their own paths in improvisation.

Improv is fundamentally about community. Without it, the essence of what makes improv special—spontaneity, collaboration, and live interaction—would fade. So, I invite you, whether you’re an experienced improviser or just curious about improv, to step into the spotlight with us. Are you ready to explore and grow in a community that celebrates every step of the improv journey? Join us at Improv U and let’s create something extraordinary together.

Consider Corporate Teambuilding Orlando

There is no shortage of things to do for your retreat with your company or organization in Orlando. So with all the options, why consider corporate teambuilding in Orlando?

  1. Diverse Venue Options: Orlando offers a variety of venues that cater to corporate events of all sizes, from luxurious resorts to unique outdoor spaces. This diversity allows companies to pick a location that best fits their team-building objectives and company culture.
  1. World-Class Entertainment: Known globally for its theme parks and attractions, Orlando provides unmatched entertainment options that can be integrated into your team-building program. From private events at Walt Disney World to team challenges at Universal Studios, the options are boundless and thrilling.
  1. Ideal Weather Year-Round: Orlando’s warm climate makes it an excellent choice for year-round outdoor team-building activities. Whether it’s outdoor scavenger hunts in the winter or water-based activities in the summer, the weather is typically conducive to a wide range of events.
  1. Accessibility: Orlando is a major hub with an international airport that offers numerous direct flights from across the United States and the world. This accessibility makes it easier for companies with national and international teams to gather in one location.
  1. Expert Event Planners and Facilitators: The city’s thriving tourism and corporate event industry means you have access to some of the best event planning and team-building facilitators in the business. These professionals are skilled in creating customized experiences that can help achieve specific team goals.
  1. Accommodations for All Preferences: With a wide range of accommodation options from budget to luxury, Orlando can suit the needs and preferences of all attendees. This flexibility ensures that every team member is comfortable and can focus fully on the team-building experience.
  1. Networking Opportunities: Hosting your team-building event in a vibrant city like Orlando allows for numerous networking opportunities. Participants can engage with professionals from various industries, potentially leading to collaborations and partnerships.
  1. Cultural and Recreational Activities: Beyond theme parks, Orlando offers a rich array of cultural attractions such as museums, galleries, and theaters, as well as recreational activities like golfing and water sports. These activities provide more relaxed and informal settings for team bonding.
  1. Scalability for Large Groups: Orlando is equipped to handle large groups without compromising the quality of experience. This is ideal for corporations with a large workforce or for hosting multi-departmental or even inter-company team-building events.
  1. Memorable Experiences: Perhaps the most significant advantage of choosing Orlando for your corporate team-building is the guarantee of a memorable experience. The unique combination of location, facilities, and activities not only enhances teamwork but also leaves lasting impressions, boosting morale long after the event has ended.

Discord: Connecting the Improv Community

Hey, it’s Anthony Francis from Improv U, back again to chat about something a little different but incredibly important for our improv community—staying connected through Discord. In a world where digital spaces increasingly complement our physical ones, Discord has emerged as a powerful tool for keeping the improv community tightly knit. Let’s dive into how Discord supports our unique ecosystem and walk through getting started on this platform.

Why Discord for Improv?

Discord, originally popular among gamers, has become a versatile platform for communities, including those of us in improv, to gather, discuss, and share. Its features support everything from text-based chat to voice and video calls, making it an ideal space for improvisers to connect, brainstorm, and even rehearse virtually. Here’s why it’s become a go-to for us:

  1. Dedicated Spaces: Discord allows us to create servers and channels dedicated to specific topics or groups. This means we can have a space for everything from general discussions to rehearsal schedules, post-show analysis, and everything in between.
  2. Real-time Collaboration: The platform’s voice and video chat capabilities mean we can run virtual workshops, have live discussions, and even perform online improv shows.
  3. Resource Sharing: Discord is great for sharing scripts, show flyers, educational resources, and more, helping our community grow and learn together.
  4. Accessibility: It makes our community more accessible, especially for those who can’t always make it to live shows or workshops due to geographical or logistical reasons.

Getting Started with Discord: A Quick Guide

If you’re new to Discord, here’s a simple guide to get you started:

  1. Sign Up: Download the Discord app (available on desktop and mobile) or head to Discord’s website. Sign up with an email and create a username.
  2. Join a Server: Once you’re set up, you can join an improv community server. This might be provided to you as an invite link from the community itself. Click the link, and you’ll be added to the server.
  3. Explore Channels: Within each server, you’ll find channels. These can be text channels (for typing out conversations) or voice/video channels (for speaking directly with others). Browse through and get familiar with the topics.
  4. Participate: Don’t be shy! Jump into conversations, introduce yourself, and participate in scheduled events. Discord’s all about interaction, so the more you put in, the more you’ll get out of it.
  5. Notifications: Customize your notification settings to ensure you stay updated on the conversations that interest you most without being overwhelmed.

Tips for a Better Discord Experience

  • Use Push to Talk: In voice channels, consider using the ‘Push to Talk’ feature to minimize background noise during discussions or rehearsals.
  • Explore Bots: Discord servers can use bots for a variety of purposes, from scheduling to fun interactive games. These can enhance your experience and help manage the community.
  • Stay Engaged: Regular participation helps strengthen the community. Whether it’s asking questions, sharing experiences, or just chiming in on discussions, every bit helps.

Discord has opened up a new realm of possibilities for the improv community, making it easier than ever for us to stay connected, collaborate, and support each other. Whether you’re looking to discuss techniques, set up virtual shows, or just chat about your love for improv, Discord provides the perfect space to do so.

Remember, improv thrives on community, and platforms like Discord help ensure that our community remains vibrant, engaged, and supportive, no matter where we are in the world.

Keep improvising, and see you on Discord!

Anthony Francis

Team bonding better than team practice?

teambonding

What did you do for your set?

This past weekend I had the pleasure of performing at the Orlando Comedy Festival with two great groups. The Conglomeration and The Unwritten Sketch Show, Improv U’s mainstage cast. 

Unwritten hadn’t performed together in over four months and with us moving to Central Florida I wasn’t sure how that would go. Could we play well together even after all this time apart? 

It was Friday evening when the team arrived at our door. Patrick, Diane, and Tony. Brian couldn’t make it, but we texted him with updates. 

The four stayed at our house. We stayed up late passing the remote and sharing YouTube videos, talking, and sharing updates. In the morning I made French toast and then we all piled into Diane’s Civic and set off to Deland for the day. 

My friend Steve took me here last week and it was so nice I had to show it to everyone. We walked around the bookstores and sipped cocktails. 

We experienced a new place together. We talked about what we were passionate about and we also talked about our plan for the show. What will our set be? We decided to do the set that was in front of us and not what we had done before. 

We didn’t run sets or practice. We talked about what felt fun to do. We talked about the big picture. 

“I want to get weird with it,” I said. 

“I want to do things in the audience.”Diane chimed in. 

“I don’t care what we do so long as I get to do it with you amazing beautiful people.” Said Patrick. This was normal for Patrick. We chatted some more then we all took naps. 

We got up, piled into the car and headed to the festival. 

Our set was fun. We played with each other and supported one another. Not because we ran the set a bunch of times but because we ran the friendship. We spent the day connecting and that was everything. 

How important is the connection between the players? We focus so much on form or “getting better at improv” but what about connecting with who you play with? 

In improv you really have to trust your fellow performers. So much of what makes improv great is the way we play together. 

The more we trust the better we play. 

As I mentioned earlier I also got a chance to play with The Conglomeration! This group is made up of The Mayor of Improv Darryl Knapp and actor, published poet, professional clown Victoria Dym. I love playing with these two, but we also don’t live near each other and while we do rehearsal sometimes for the most part we don’t. 

I walked into the green room and greeted Victoria. She was looking a little nervous. 

“We need to connect.”, she said.

So we found Darryl and the three of us huddled close in our chairs. 

We briefly discussed the form and opening suggestion and quickly moved to intentions. “I want to make you both look good. I want to support what you do and give you a bunch of gifts.”, I said. 

Victoria does something very special before the show. Often times improvisers will say “I’ve got your back.” Victoria does it differently. 

“I want to do a show with you”, said Victoria. 

“I want to do a show with you too”, said Darryl.

We all repeated this and patted each other on the back. 

When we got on stage I felt confident. That confidence would stay with me through the night. It also reminded me that training the skill is only half of what it means to perform improv. We need to nurture the relationships too. 

A big thank you to Matt Gervia for shouldering the weight of this festival and holding a space for us to perform. If it wasn’t for your hard work and dedication these special moments and insights may have never come. 

SRQ 2023

The team took to Sarasota for the Sarasota Improv Festival. See their shenanigans below.

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