How non-actors are using improv to improve their lives

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NEW YORK (PIX11) -- If mastered, the art of improvisation can make a mediocre comedian the star of any show.

Just ask any cast member from the CW Network’s “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”

It turns out the craft which forces one to break out of their shell and think on their feet, does not only do wonders for actors but also Average Joes. “We have had a lot of people come and it has changed their life,” Ali Reza Farahnakian, improv instructor and caretaker at the renowned People’s Improv Theater, told PIX11 News.

According to Farahnakian, one of the powerful benefits of improv is embracing the concept that there is no such thing as perfect.  “We’re more connected than we realize and that’s what improv makes people realize - we’re human first,” he said. “You just kinda have to keep going [despite] what happens, just commit to it.”

After a quick warm-up of shaking off nerves and an epic memory game of learning everyone’s name, the workshop at the PIT gets underway. Each activity forces participants to be vulnerable and their security is doing it, in a judgment-free zone.

Student Alexis Steponanko, who works as an executive assistant to a CEO, credits improv for helping her be more direct with others in social situations.  “It helps you embrace being human,” she said. “It’s definitely helped with my confidence being able to go out there and meet people and being out in the general public.”

In some cases, improv has also been proven to treat social anxiety as well as an array of mental health disabilities. It’s treatment where the only prescription is having an open mind.

If you’re thinking about getting your feet wet and want to see what improv is all about, The PIT offers something they call “Super Free Wednesdays” – where you could go down to the theater and check out a show for free.

And if you’re up for it, at 11 p.m. you could hop on the stage and try it out yourself.  For more information, visit their site.

 

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