For many of us, the idea of stepping onstage and being thrown into action without a script or prep time sounds terrible and definitely not how we’d choose to spend a Tuesday night. But improv teacher Philip Jacobson may change your mind.
Become Master of the Universe
Improv comedy asks a lot of you – but it gives a lot back. Think unscripted games where players have to abide by very specific rules. “You have to see the world from a whole different perspective,” explains Jacobson. Reality becomes bound by the restrictions of the game and your brain is forced to work in new ways, stretching your capacity. “Once you start mastering that, you start feeling that you can conquer the world,” he says.
One game requires players to communicate using body language and sounds instead of English. “Once you can do that, the real world becomes a piece of cake,” laughs Jacobson. He claims he can basically teach you to read minds. “Once you start reading other people’s body language, your confidence goes up,” he says.
Learn To Manage Behavior In a Non-Threatening Environment
“Improv helps me show my students their habits,” says Jacobson. “Every game you play is a different reality,” he explains. “People tend to do things that they do in the outside world. I just study them and bring them to life in a non-threatening and positive atmosphere.” One student had a quirk that became very obvious in the improv setting. “All I did was say to him, ‘Are you aware that you just explained in three different ways?’” The student came back later and told Jacobson that he had changed his behavior at work and was thriving.
Speed Up Your Reaction Time
Getting thrown into the improv fire on a regular basis helps improve your reaction time, because it’s a matter of survival. After years of improv comedy training and teaching, Jacobson says, “I react more quickly and creatively.”
Greater Comfort In Social Settings
After taking improv classes, people realize that what they face in improv is far more difficult than anything they could face in a social situation – even overbearing cocktail parties or fraught family dinners.
Preserve Your Brain Without Formaldehyde
Many of his older students tell him they’re in the class to keep their brain sharp. Improv comedy can even help ward off Alzheimer’s. It definitely throws them into the ring to pit their wits against the young folk – Jacobson doesn’t sequester students into ages or levels. His youngest student is fifteen and his oldest won’t tell anyone how old she is. “I throw them into the same group,” he explains. “You’re dealing with people who are smart or experienced and you’re also talking to people who are wet behind the ears.”
Plus, It’s Fun
Jacobson has taught improv to actors, public speakers, radio personalities, stand-up comedians, shy people, community and business leaders, corporate groups, and families. But his favorite are the “people who want to use the imagination of the six-year-old they used to be.”
What are the chances that improv classes will become your new adrenaline high of choice?