Ever thought about trying your hand at improv? Looking for a way to drag yourself out of your comfort zone?
For the next four Wednesday nights – July 27, Aug. 3, Aug. 10 and Aug. 17 – Durango DOT Comedy is giving you the chance to learn about the art of improv from the troupe’s members. And after the four weeks, you can show off what you’ve learned in a Slamfest that will be held at the Durango Arts Center.
The program is free for participants, and no experience is required – if you’re interested, you just show up. It is recommended, however, that you be at least 18 years old.
“We’re just giving people an opportunity to try it,” said troupe founder Mike Jordan. “Some people watch and say, ‘This looks like so much fun, but I’m intimidated’ ... we give them that chance. They get four Wednesdays and then we do a show.
“Basically, it’s like a competition: We divide everyone into two teams and we have rules and certain types of games we practice, and (the teams) go head to head,” Jordan said. “We have a panel of judges, and then the winning team gets their own embroidered champion mask.”
(A quick aside: I’ve seen the mask the Slamfest winners get, and believe me, it’s pretty awesome – you definitely want one.)
Fellow troupe member Geoff Johnson explained what people can expect from the experience.
“We’ll start out by teaching them some improv basics – just the basic games and rules – and get them trying to stretch their creativity muscles and have fun and be willing to be silly,” he said. “From there, we’ll start teaching them stuff they can use in the performance, and learning the types of things we’ll throw in to the show.
“The show is going to be a sort of contest for them. ... It’s kind of a build-up: We’ll start small and work up to the show,” he said.
The troupe is also looking for two new members to replace people who have left.
And the best part of putting yourself out there, unscripted and in front of an audience?
“The thrill,” said longtime troupe member André Pierre-Louis. “It’s the thrill like when you go on a roller-coaster and you say, ‘I just can’t do it,’ and you make this whole big deal about it. Next thing you know, you’re getting strapped in, the green light’s going ... then you’re on top and you’re like, ‘AHHHHHHHH!’ And at the very end when you stop ... as soon as you get off, you’re like, ‘I want to do it again.’”