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Written by James Tierney (@James_Tierney). James is a performer with ImprovCity in Orange County, CA, an avid New York Mets Fan and an all around good guy. Here are some of his thoughts from his time at Camp Improv Utopia.
Memorial day weekend was one of the best weekends I have experienced as a person, and certainly the best weekend as an improviser. I was able to participate in ImprovUtopia, a 4-day, 3-night camp dedicated to growing as an improviser and a person which included meeting some of the best individuals in the business. The camp itself was amazing and filled with workshops and improv jams, but I got the most out of the ‘off-site’ activities: by ‘off-site’ I mean Mozzi’s, the local ‘saloon’.
Now I know some people will just assume I am a lush and that’s why I went to the bar every night (yes… EVERY night… I think next year I should get a special pin for being there every night). Well that’s not true (to some extent). Mozzie’s allowed for hours of communication with the best minds in improv. It was here that I was able to pick the brains of Levin O,Connor and Annie Kouris; two of the most fun, entertaining, honest, and down-to-earth people I have ever met.
I had seen Levin and Annie perform at iO West last fall when I was taking my level one class. They are both members of USS Rock N Roll, a very physical improv troupe that explored ideas in a way no other Harold team I had witnessed before them had. At ImprovUtopia they were very open to talking about not only improv but also their interests, what it took them to become successful improvisers, and their long-term goals and visions for the improv world. To me this was an invaluable experience that I think others should have taken full advantage of.
What I learned the most from my nights (and early mornings) at Mozzie’s was that making connections in the improv world was easy. I have to admit when I signed up for ImprovUtopia I was afraid that no one would bother talking to me because I don’t do improv in LA, Chicago, or NYC (if you don’t know… I am a member of ImprovCity and Spectacles Improv Engine in Orange County #shamelessplug). But it was the complete opposite. Almost everyone I ran into, including improv greats like Craig Cackowski, Dave Razowsky, Levin and Annie, all wanted to know more about the improv scene in Orange County and offered great ideas on how to grow it. Next year I can’t wait to increase my improv connections and in the mean time, I hope people who read this know that there are many improv individuals out there willing to share their experience, wisdom and personal stories about becoming a White Sox fan or going to Disneyland with you over a $1.50 pint of Rolling Rock.