Around the neighborhood you may have seen flyers advertising JP Improv. Wanting to know more, Jamaica Plain News asked Jamaica Plain resident Myles McDonough scripted questions in which he provided prepared answers.
Q: Why did you want to create JP Improv?
McDonough: I'd previously taught improv while at graduate school in Knoxville, TN, and I missed the community that grew up around that troupe. In addition, I saw that there weren't many nearby opportunities for people to try improv, and wanted to fix that.
Q: When did you create JP Improv?
McDonough: I began advertising the first class in the spring of 2022, and kicked off our first lesson that July.
Q: How do you teach people to improv?
McDonough: In my classes, I like to break improv concepts down into their simplest parts, then guide students as they put those parts back together to construct improvised characters, scenes, and shows. Classes involve some discussion of the theory behind improv, and lots of practice to help students get their "reps" in.
Q: What's a stereotypical class like?
McDonough: A class usually starts with a few warmup exercises, followed by a quick discussion of the concept or skill we'll be exploring that day. We then run through a number of exercises designed to exercise that skill, before breaking off in the last few minutes to enjoy some less-structured scenework.
Q: Are some people just better at improvising in a comedic performance?
McDonough: Not at all! Improv is a skill that anyone can learn with practice and a willingness to try new things. While some students may feel more comfortable on stage at the start, by the end everyone gains the skills and confidence they need to put on a great show.
Q: Must performed improv always be for comedic purposes?
McDonough: Nope! While most improv shows tend to be comedic, there is a long tradition of dramatic improv that focuses on developing improvised plots and exploring emotion within the context of a scene. Some troupes even improvise entire plays!
Q: Is there a location in JP you'd like to perform improv?
McDonough: We're already having a great time practicing and performing at Spontaneous Celebrations. In the future, we'd also love to perform at local venues like Midway Café, Deep Thoughts, The Haven, etc.
Q: Is this your full-time job? If not, what else do you do?
McDonough: Besides teaching improv, I'm also a content strategist and copywriter, mostly working in the nonprofit sector.
Q: What else would you like people to know about yourself and/or JP Improv?
McDonough: Two things:
I've recently launched an Improv for Business workshop designed to help teams disrupt habitual thinking, improve collaboration, and spark creativity. If people want to learn more I would love for them to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Improv is for everyone! If you've never improvised before but you're feeling curious, try taking a free drop-in class through JP Improv, the Rozzie Square Theater, Union Comedy, or any of the other great theaters in Boston. It's a wonderful way to meet new people, get comfortable in front of crowds, and have fun!