University aspirations I couldn’t seem to shake

When I was 19, I was convinced that I wanted to hop on a plane and fly to London to develop my own storytelling hour on some radio station. First I’d break into radio and then hit television stations everywhere – naturally. And of course it had to be in London because a few of my comedic idols developed their career there, and I reckoned myself to be the next Stephen Merchant. Totally humble.

That was the hypothetical plan. And somewhere along the way, I dropped it all to establish a more formalised career. Over time I wasn’t unhappy with how my life was developing but felt something was missing – a spark of inspiration.

Hitting the nail on the head

Nine years later I was visiting the U.S and heard about this phenomenon called ‘Hamilton.’ The hype hadn’t hit Europe yet, so I gave it a skeptical try and was completely floored by the modern use of Shakespeare. I became obsessed. Listening to every track 10 times over and even reading about Lin Manuel Miranda’s creative process, essentially grabbing everything I could off the shelf.

The essence of what I discovered was that creativity comes from a creative life. 

During that short visit I realised that there was a big part of my life that was missing since I was 19, and I began researching how to meet other creative people who could inspire me further in this creative life I was seeking. I just wasn’t sure where I would find them. 

Improv comedy in Amsterdam

Fast forward to present day and I’m now involved in the improv comedy scene in Amsterdam. There are a number of Dutch and International groups of people who have made improv comedy accessible to everyone – from an up and coming company like ImproGanga, to a more established troupe like easylaughs, to an American-styled theater like BOOM Chicago. And that’s to name a small few. 

Improv in amsterdam
Myself with a talented cast mate performing an improv game where he is trying his hardest to not get me to say “please.”

I began to gravitate towards improv because watching an improv show was like being blind-folded on a really spectacular roller coaster. As an audience member, I never knew what was going to happen but I loved being taken on the ride. It was easy to feel inspired by the energy the actors give off. And performing in an improv show has turned out to be no different. It’s a maddening rush of unknowns and unexpected expectations. I’m officially addicted – a roller coaster junkie.

Channeling the 5 year old and the 19 year old

When I decided to embark on the improv comedy roller coaster ride, it had been years since I performed in anything. I grew up in community theater and I wanted to get back into the performing arts since I left it 10 years ago.  I also wanted to go back to my university days of Monty Python, Upright Citizens Brigade, and Stella binge-watching and studying. So I said “why not” to giving improv comedy a try. The best case scenario was that I would be so inspired to start my own theater showcasing different variety acts (new goal?), and the not-so-worst case scenario would be improving my storytelling for writing and meeting other creative people. Two pretty cool outcomes.

One year later and I’m nowhere closer to opening a theater, but I’ve met inspiring people and have improved my storytelling.  I’ve discovered a sense of fulfillment that I haven’t experienced for 10 years – a creative life. I write more, read more, act and play more. Even if I don’t plan to travel to London to start my own radio show and magically transform into Stephen Merchant, my life has become more rounded. The road I’ve been exhausting may have taken some detours but I feel like I’m finally headed in the right direction. No destination is in sight but my internal Google maps is pointing north and it’s pointing me towards the coolest topsy-turvy roller coaster. 

Want to join the ride?

improganga

On June 24th the two-headed dragon (co-founders) who started the improv group I perform with – ImproGanga – are hosting the first 12-hour Amsterdam Improv Marathon. During this time performers from all over Europe will come and improvise on a main stage and I’m incredibly excited to be blown away by inspiration and to take other newcomers on this wacky roller coaster with me. Check out the links to find out more information. 

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