WHY IMPROV COMEDY – IMPROV 4 LIFE

We use PLAY + STORY to teach valuable life skills and spread much needed laughter in the world!

“YES! And…” Takes Us to the Learning Zone

Psychological Safety is the #1 determining factor in team success, according to 2015 findings of Project Aristotle, the four year study into teams by Google. Balanced with Performance Drive we enter the learning zone.

Our #1 rule: HAVE FUN! But NEVER at another’s expense.

Building psychological safety in your team directly leads to productivity. Psychological safety paired with performance drive also makes you a better leader, a better sales person and better at customer service.

  • “YES!” produces psychological safety. We agree and support our team.
  • “And…” is performance pressure. We need to carry our weight and contribute to the team

Together there is nothing we can’t achieve.

At EIGHT IS NEVER ENOUGH, we believe once you take our classes and see our shows, you become part of our family. We want you to take our message of embracing the power of “YES! And…” for all to your work, home and community.

Improv Teaches Presentation Skills

Improv teaches presentation skills in two ways.

  • Public Speaking Techniques
  • Story Telling Techniques

The first perhaps is more obvious. Improv is 100% performance on day one. Every warm-up game and technique exercise is applying public speaking skills. We grow confident just by doing. We learn to consistently energy our voice, using appropriate projection and diction. We learn very early that something funny is not funny unless it is heard and understood.

Less obvious maybe the story telling skills. When you make a presentation, using story will help you persuade your audience. Whether leading a team in a new direction, making a sales pitch, or appeasing a disgruntle client/customer, story will shape information. When you merely present a set of facts, individuals will interpret their own directions.

Story also engages the audience. The more details you give the more clearly the audience will see your intended message. Improv teaches us to shape our stories with emotion and conviction.

Improv Teaches Critical Thinking

Humor and creativity work in similar ways. By creating relationships between two disconnected items, you engage the whole brain. 
Humor guru, William Fry, M.D., of Stanford University

Simply playing improv comedy games builds a better brain. Akin to playing word games and SuDoku to sharpen your focus, Improv is problem solving. Two or more play together to create story form scratch.

Improv teaches to think out of the box. By letting go of how we think a thing should be, we are able to discover its true nature. We open up to new possibility. We discover new pathways. We learn to solve problems anew.

We become open to others ideas and interpretations on a subject.

Improv Delivers Much Needed Laughter

In many cases, the laughter supersedes all other benefits. Bringing laughter to a classroom improves test scores, according to research at Johns Hopkins. Laughter increases cardio pulmonary function, getting more oxygen to the brain. Laughter creates community, while reducing stress, depression and blood pressure. The laughter alone increases individual and team health. Laughter tears down walls of resentment, replacing with strong bonds of trust.

Laughter and Joy will make your team work together better, will make folks follow your leadership, make your students listen to your teachings, buy your products, and accept your customer service efforts.

NOW MORE THAN EVER you need to bring laughter to your work, school, home and community. We do this with shows and classes.

Make the World Smile

Did you do your homework today? Walt Frasier gives all of his students the following two assignments.

  • Observe & experience your world. Then journal it. Every thing you need to inspire characters and story is all around you everywhere you go. Participate in life. This is true of the arts and every discipline.
  • Start every day with a smile. When folks make you happy, you smile. You can make yourself feel great starting with a smile. Change your story. Become someone who LOVES Mondays, going to school, going to work. Want the world to smile at your LEAD BY EXAMPLE. Ignore that one that judges you. They will judge you no matter how happy or miserable you are because they are miserable. (If you are reading this and this describes you, STOP JUDGING AND JOIN THE PARTY!). Make yourself feel GREAT by stretching the face with a smile. Squeeze out the happy juices. You can reduce pain and stiffness, open up your sinuses for better pubic speaking, help drain out the gross allergy build up. CHANGE YOUR LIFE by CHANGING YOUR STORY. START with a SMILE!!!

Improv Comedy for Corporate Teams

Corporate clients include JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Twitter, BING/Microsoft, BAML, Home Depot, Ernst & Young, Louis Vuitton, Coach, UBS, BDO, AMEX, Master Card, Datadog, NY Life, Accenture,
 Macy’s, 360i, IBM, GM, KRAFT, UNILEAVER, HBO,  and 100s more… CLICK HERE to read our philosophy behind using Improv to teach team building

Improv Comedy at Colleges & Universities

The show has played big stages at Montclaire State University, Bloomberg,  High Point University, Williams College, Lynchburg College, and Hastings College. Charter House and smaller Greek events at Princeton, University of Maryland and Georgetown. The show has played numerous orientation and preview week shows at Pace and a hug hit at smaller lounges and snack bars and meeting rooms (<200ppl) at Vaughn, College Misericordia, University of Vermont, Mount Ida College and Stone Hill University.

Improv Comedy at Schools

K12 Educational Outreach and Family events include 100s of birthdays, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, reunions, plus 100s of NYC DOE School (Vendor for 10+ years), JCC, YMCA, day and overnight camps, etc. We host field trips and events at our Times Square theater as well as touring schools, camps, community centers and family events.

Sample Online Improv Workshop Game List

Pictured: Walt Frasier works with Microsoft BING Executive Sales Team at their new training center at 42nd and 8th Ave.

SAMPLE IMPROV WORKSHOP GAMES (Download Printable PDF)

These games warmup both the individual and the team dynamic. This list of games is a perfect class for building skills through game play. Learning to Improvise combines performance and creative writing skills. These games are also a typical Team Building Session with Walt Frasier, author of Improv on Zoom. After 1000+ hour of teaching improv online, Walter has paired down the perfect 45-60 minute session that introduces the art for as well as game your team can play before every online meeting to get the collaborative juices flowing.

EMAIL booking requests for Improv Workshops and Residencies. Check links in menu for upcoming public class offerings – currently online available worldwide.

NINJA

Teacher or Player One starts by saying. “I HAVE A KNIFE”. Hold your hand up as if grabbing an imaginary knife by the blade. Make eye contact (OR Call out another’s name if on ZOOM). Make sure you have their attention before throwing. (ON ZOOM Respond to your name being called) Throw the knife. That player will catch the knife by clapping hand in front of their face. Both players should feel the weight of the knife as well as the emotional weight – the anxiety, fear, adrenaline rush of danger, etc. Repeat and pass the imaginary knife around the room. When two performers “YES! And…” the pantomime, the object becomes real to the audience. After a point, the teacher can change the knife into a baby, a snake or other object, simply by using their imagination. Imagine molding the air like clay. Handle and pass each new object in a way appropriate to its nature. Eventually, let the class mold the object anew for every pass. MOST IMPORTANT, before throwing/passing, communicate what the object is and to whom you intend to throw it. CATCH the object your teammates pass, reflecting the amount/quality of energy in the passing, and the object’s size and weight. Make an emotional connection to the object.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

Start by getting an activity from the crowd. First player will start acting out that activity. Next player asks, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” The first player states a NEW activity, completely different that the one they are performing at the time (keep your activity going until you state the new activity). Second player starts acting out the new offer. Continue around the room a few times. Treat these imaginary activities as real as possible. Pantomime allows us to create infinite worlds out of thin area. When our imaginations are on fire, and we respond with realistic movement, the audience sees our creations in their minds eye.

ONE WORD STORY

One word at time, the team tells a story. Stand in a circle. (ON ZOOM Establish an order, share that in the chat. Remember who YOU follow) Follow the story with your eyes. LISTEN and RESPOND without thinking ahead or behind. Simply say the first word that comes to mind when the story comes to you. Consider characters and settings. Every word is important. TRICK TO COMEDY and TEAMWORK – don’t TRY to be funny or clever. TRUST yourself and your team to be funny together. Stay IN THE MOMENT.

YES And…. ONE SENTENCE STORY

Now, each player in the room will add one sentence at a time to the story. The first player establishes our story. Introduce a WHO (Character/Relationship) and WHERE (Setting) choice. Each player following will start with the words: “YES! And…” Then continue to add details. With every statement (Avoid Questions in Improv) add a WHO, WHERE and/or WHAT (Action, Plot) choice that continues to support previous details. In this game we are all the SAME voice. We are not having a conversation.

TRAIT PLATE

Let’s tell one more story. Except this time, we will each be a different character. Player one starts the story by introducing their character. Pass the plate (the story) to the next player by introducing their character. Every time you talk in turn, add something new about your own character and then the next player’s character. Make a new choice about relationships, personality, mood, job, physical status, props, costume etc. When someone mentions something new about your character immediately adapt that into your portrayal of the character.

  • Have fun playing games
  • Share much needed laughter
  • Develop valuable life skills!

Professionally acting since the mid-90s, Walt Frasier has been performing (5000+ professional shows live from Times Square, NYC and touring Nationwide) and teaching Improv Comedy since 2002. In addition to his successful Times Square School, Walt Frasier works with corporate teams, college groups and K12 schools, using Improv create much needed laughter and teaching creativity, public speaking skills and self-confidence. Since March 2020, Walt has logged 1000+ hours teaching/performing online via ZOOM and other platforms. Walt Frasier is a founding member of EIGHT IS NEVER ENOUGH (AKA LMAOff Broadway, The Original Improv 4 Kids), former director of instruction for the Comedy Hall of Fame, and has international credits in TV (Billions, Blue Bloods, Royal Pains, Lilyhammer, Letterman etc), Theater (Off Broadway, Regional & Touring) and Music (Opera, Concert Soloist). Walt is a NYC DOE Vendor, has worked with K12 schools nationwide, hosting groups for shows & workshops at their Times Square theater and touring. Walt is also a corporate improv specialist using Improv to teach team building, leadership, sales, and service. Clients include Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase, HSBC, AMEX, Master Card, Twitter, BING, Coach, Louis Vuitton, Home Depot, GM, Kraft and 100s more.

How Improvisation Changes the Brain: Creativity = Self Confidence

Science finds that engaging in creativity such as Improv Comedy builds self-confidence due to actual changes in rain function.

Are you plagued by that voice in your head? How many times have you missed out in your personal or professional life because that fear of speaking freely, fear of failure, fear of the unknown held you back?

I have seen Improv Comedy classes turn total stage fright into out going fun loving individuals in kids and adults. I have said just playing Improv Games builds self confidence. I just learned why.

Improv game play gets those happy juices flowing, thanks to the smiles and laughter that literally squeeze the fun out of your face, into the whole body while pumping oxygen into the brain. To the thousands that have seen our shows, I feel bad, playing the games is so much more fun than watching. Mind, body and soul are nourished on another level.

However, improv actually increases certain brain functions while turning off the Debby Downer “inner critic” part of your mind. Reading this article is a major AH HA moment that have seen the actualization of this science.

Here is an excerpt from Psychology Today

“During improvisation, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex decreased in activity and the medial prefrontal cortex increased. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is like your inner critic; it’s that voice in your head that says, “Don’t say that” or “What will happen if you’re wrong?” 

Comedy Classes Online

On the other hand, the medial prefrontal cortex is associated with language and creativity. While musicians improvised, their brains’ censors decreased and their creativity centers increased in activity.”
From https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/play-your-way-sane/201910/how-improvisation-changes-the-brain

ONLINE CLASSES


Much Needed Laughter

Now more than ever we need laughter in our lives. Social AND traditional media deliver the negative vibes. The world is a crazy place. But the world has always been crazy.

What can you do about it?

LAUGH!

Our goal, above all else, is delivering laughter. We justify our existence demonstrating how Improv teaches creative writing, public speaking and self-confidence. We lead corporate workshops teaching team, leadership, sales and service.

Our greatest contribution to this world is the laughter. Laughter increases brain function, cardio pulmonary activity and state of mind/being.

Don’t take our word for it…

What the experts say…

Source https://www.mindfulnessarts.org/LAUGH_RESEARCH.html

According to William F. Fry, M.D., associate professor of clinical psychiatry at Stanford University, laughing 100-200 times per day is the cardiovascular equivalent of rowing for 10 minutes. When something strikes you as funny, you laugh. And when you laugh, your body responds. You flex, then relax, 15 facial muscles plus dozens of others all over your body. Your pulse and respiration increase briefly, oxygenating your blood. And your brain experiences a decrease in pain perception, possibly associated with the production of pain-killing, pleasure-giving endorphins.

According to Jeffrey Briar, laugh instructor at California’s Blue Pearl Yoga, those who take the [laugh] class regularly will see an improvement in their self-confidence.

According to Steve Wilson, physiologist, joyologist and founder of the world laughter tour and a board member of the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, when you look at all the research on laughter, it strongly leads us to the conclusion that one of the main purposes of laughter is the discharge of tension. Laughter also energizes people. If you laugh long enough and hard enough you reverse the physiology of stress. And anything that can reduce the ill-effects of stress is an ally in health and happiness.

There’s even hope, the scientists say, for cranky people who rarely laugh and for those without a sense of humor: They can learn.

According to an article by Kathleen Doheny on WebMD, Laughter is being called the latest weapon in the fight against heart disease, ever since University of Maryland researchers reported at an American Heart Association meeting in November that heart-healthy people are more likely than those with heart disease to laugh frequently and heartily, and to use humor to smooth over awkward situations. There’s even hope, the scientists say, for cranky people who rarely laugh and for those without a sense of humor: They can learn.

One-minute guffaw has the same health benefits as a 45-minute gym workout

Up to 80 muscles are used during a hearty laugh, the blood pressure rises, the heart beats faster and blood oxygen levels increase. In fact, a study released last year by German gelotologist Professor Gunther Sickl revealed that a one-minute guffaw has the same health benefits as a 45-minute gym workout. When the laughter stops, the blood pressure returns to normal and stress hormones are reduced – actually strengthening the immune system.

Diabetes Too?

From Diabetes Care May 2003; People with type 2 diabetes may be better able to process sugar from meals if they laugh, according to a small study. Researchers found that diabetics who watched a comedy show had a smaller rise in post-meal blood sugar than when they listed to a non-humorous lecture. The effect occurred in people without diabetes as well. Researchers are not certain why laughter appears to reduce blood sugar, but suggested that it might increase the consumption of energy by using the abdominal muscles, or might affect the neuroendocrine system, which controls glucose levels in the blood.

TV Experts Agree

“Laughing is great exercise. It tightens your abs, gets your endorphins going, and filters out all those anxieties that weigh you down.” Denise Austin, TV fitness guru. Source: July 2006 Redbook Magazine

YES! And… How Improv Builds Stronger Personal Relationships

YES! And… Is the #1 rule in Improv. This simple two word governing principal packs a lot of benefits for your personal and professional life.

How much easier would it be to interview for a job, make new friends, interact with co-workers, have an honest conversation with partners, or even lead a team if we could reduce or out right eliminate fears of failure, fears of the unknown and social anxieties such as stage fright?

We daily claim to clients from corporate teams that Improv Comedy will help build team, leadership, sales and service skills. We claim Improv builds creative writing, critical thinking, public speaking and self-confidence.

But how does Improv comedy build these skills?

Stage Fright is the #1 phobia, combining both the fears of unknown and fear of failure. Combined these fears paralyze the best of us and even cause physical sickness and nausea.

Similarly social interaction anxieties thrive in this phobic space.

Improv turns fears of public speaking and social interaction on their head by simply playing games as a team. No one individual is left out to fail. The team forms a tight knit unit that works together to play.

That’s right, we don’t perform, we play. We play games.

We pass words around like a sports team passes a ball. In fact, sometimes we even pantomime passing around a ball.

We start with the basics. We play games that require listening and focus to succeed and nothing else. A game like ZIP ZAP ZUP seems silly and ridiculous, but it’s genius is it’s break down of all other needs. All you have to do is to follow the energy around the room, listen and focus. You don’t have to think. You don’t have to impress. You just do.

Then we add words. We don’t try to be funny. We don’t try to be clever. We just listen and respond. We simply contribute to the team.

Then we create sentences, one word at a time. Eventually we offer entire sentences at a time.

At each step we teach just adding a word is better than trying to think of the perfect word. Any word you say is good enough and accepted. There are no mistakes. There is no failure. There is no judgement.

Think like a five year old. Just play. Leave behind all those things we learned in middle school like fear and judgement.

Also let go of ego, the over compensation for insecurity. Find a space where all are on equal footing, regardless of age, experience etc.

I tell students of any age not to even hold myself, the teacher with 18 years experience as better.

Psychological Safety achieved. The spark of self-confidence blooms. Wonderful things emerge….

Creativity Now Thrives

As artists, this space, free of judgement, free from fear, the brain’s synapses start to fire.

Now that we have relaxed our tensions and laughed a bit, oxygen is pumping in at new highs. The head actually starts to tingle.

Ideas flow. As an actor, ideas about character. As a designer, shapes and colors circle. Even programers start to see new patterns for computer codes.

We become open to new ideas from others as well. Creative collaboration thrives.

Critical Thinking

William Fry, the late great humor guru from Stanford University, states that humor builds a better brain by constantly comparing two otherwise unlike items.

Once you let down your guard, you see more possiblity. You can’t think our of the box when stuck in your own construct.

The world tries to put us in a box, stop doing that to ourselves. (Branding “experts” might disagree lol).

As a team, YES! And… will lead to all sorts of possibilities. The solution to the problem is never found at the initial brainstorm. Too many teams and companies and individuals fail by not fleshing out all the options.

“Never fall in love with your first draft” or idea. But letting those first ideas flow without fear of failure will lead to the amazing choices.

Better Presentation Skills

Most classes in public speaking have it backwards, trying to build your confidence by teaching you better presentation skills.

Simply building confidence, reducing fear of failure and unknowns, opens one up to present information better. Over time you will learn from mistakes, because NOW you are not afraid to make big ones. You are taking chances.

Now if you misspeak, stumble, for draw a blank for a moment you won’t freak out. You can simply smile, breathe and move past the inconsequential moment in time, and find humor and joy in your “failure”.

Also Improv teaches storytelling. Your presentations, whether to a mass gathering or small table of friends, will become more interesting.

Relationships

Both personal and business relationships are destroyed, or never formed, due to these fears.

Many amazing connections are avoided altogether, because we fear the word NO, in others.

Fear of initiating contact could lead to missing out on a valuable partnership.

Great sales people and con artists are successful because they know about the numbers games AND never fear it’s perceived failures. A NO is not a failure, it’s just a NO.

The Confidence to Say YES

Saying NO is easy choice. Saying NO is the lazy choice.

Saying YES puts responsibility on your shoulders. It requires follow through. It requires listening. It requires confidence in your self.

Saying YES puts yourself out there for possible failure, possible hurt.

How many say no at work, because you fear backlash.

NO, we can’t afford that.

NO, we don’t have time for that.

NO, the bosses won’t go for that.

How many great ideas are left behind because too many lacked vision?

Instead, what if you enacted a little improv exercise? Ignore the kneeejerk NO and take two minutes to brainstorm that idea.

Maybe it leads no where, but chances are it leads to another even better idea that NEVER would have materialized.

This vision takes YES AND leadership.

The Confidence to Say NO

We focus on saying YES in the improv world. But it needs to be stated that we should always say yes UNLESS it puts us in physical, mental or emotional harm.

Having confidence to say NO at the right time can save a life time of pain. Too many reserve NOs for fear of involvement but fear saying NO when it will save us pain, in some cases physical injury.

Saying NO to an abusive friend or family member or partner, because we fear being alone, financial ruin etc is real.

Saying NO to a “friend” daring us to ski down that that slope we are not easy for can kill.

Building confidence gives us the power to choose our story.

It’s Not All Kumbaya

For me, YES And… is a selfish choice. I surround myself with, and support individuals that support me. Those that choose to judge or abuse are left out. I give them every chance to embrace, I try to teach them to let go of the old games, but at the end of the day, I get to choose my family.

I experience pain and hurt. That’s part of life. But in between tough moments I am surrounded with smiles and laughter. I have amazing clients that come back year after year. I work with the best team of artists. When I have love to give I give. When I am hurting I have a village of support, now from around the world thanks to social media.

Have the confidence to make GREAT choices in business and personal life.

Start building your tribe today, surrounding yourself with supportive genuine friends buy discovering self confidence and other skills from improv comedy.

HAVE FUN BUT NEVER AT ANOTHER’S EXPENSE!