December 9, 2021
Day 12: Improvisation
Television shows like Whose Line Is It Anyway? and Curb Your Enthusiasm are wonderful Other shows (Parks and Recreation and Community come to mind) have a large part of unscripted improvisation, too. Comedy improvisation can be freeing, collaborative, immersive, and totally fun.
Twenty-three years ago, I providentially happened to start comedy improv classes at IO (formerly, Improv Olympic), with co-founder Charna Halpern. She taught me a tremendous lesson: both/and. Or, rather, she gave me words for something inside of me that was yearning to be expressed. Not either/or, and certainly not a restrictive approach, but showing the extravagant welcome  I find in the United Church of Christ. Improv released this tremendous mindset that the program of recovery also encouraged in me: that of affirmation, celebration, reconciliation, and the freedom-to-be.
On this Tree of Contemplative Practices, Improvisation is found on the Creative branch. And yes, I absolutely agree! It is so creative! I can still remember skits and games we played and acted out in that two-year period. Twenty-two and twenty-three years ago. So vivid, so much fun! And the concept of group mind as a totally collaborative, integral part of the whole is something I will never forget.
Sure, the Improv I did was at a “secular” place. Yet, I can totally see how it helped me to get closer to God. Closer to my fellows in Improv. And, yes, more in touch with my inner child – or klutz – or clown – or philosopher.
I would love to do improv again! I would do it, in a shot! Perhaps, one day soon…please, God.
Please, pray with me. Dear God, thank You for laughter. Thank You for joy, and fun, and giggles, and just plain roars of laughter. Thank You for limericks and for pratfalls and for mime. Thank You for all the ways Improv artists have used all of the above to bring about joy and laughter and truth and even pain and suffering – and turn it all into something utterly wonderful. Help us all to learn from these marvelous games and skits. And, help us all to be ready to laugh. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Thanks to the website www.contemplativemind.org for their excellent image the Tree of Contemplative Practices.