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Improv Classes: For Laughs, For Healing

The Second City, Improv Olympic, Gorilla Tango, Annoyance Theater. All are great improv houses, churning out some of the most recognizable faces in comedy today.

While many people jumping into the improv scene, take classes, audition, and attend shows, all with hopes this studying could land them on the ‘main stage’ one day, there are a myriad of other reasons a person might want to take classes as well.

Some simply wish to work on their shyness, or to be a better communicator at work, or simply for fun to have a laugh! Others have now found that improv classes are an excellent form of therapy.

They call their performance “Therapist Me Off.”

“Just like in group therapy, in improv it’s scary. We have to take risks. We have to put ourselves out there and be vulnerable,” said Katie Bellamy, a clinical supervisor at Gateway Foundation. Bellamy said the hallmarks of therapy and improv include confronting a subject, but releasing control; and not worrying about the repercussions of words or actions.

“If I’m practicing improv, I’m widening my ability to tolerate discomfort, decrease my anxieties,” Bellamy said.

Whether it’s a trigger or a roleplay suggestion, they face the moment as a group.

“I’m going to be surrounded by people who understand. It’s the most connecting thing,” one student named Nino said.

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