By: Braeden Etienne
It’s easy to fall in love with improv. It’s pure joy wrapped up in silly fun times with friends. Not only that, but it’s a powerful tool to help you build relationships, feel more confident, and live a better life. So what happens when those who fall for each other also fall for improv?
Luckily enough, we have a few improv couples currently taking classes with us, who we could ask about their relationship, improv, and how the two intertwine. Seems improv could be the gasoline on the relationship fire.
Meet the Couples
Jasper & Jen
- Dating for over two years
- Jasper is currently in Level Three
- Jen has just started improvising
Brent & Eliza
- Married, and together for almost 20 years
- Both currently taking the Format Series
Zach & Tina
(We collectively couldn't find a photo)
- Recently married
- Both just completed Level One improv together
What Made You Decide to do Improv Together?
“I decided to take the level one improv class back in Fall 2017, and I would tell Jen all about it every week. I kept telling her that she would really enjoy it herself. After she watched my first student showcase and saw it with her own eyes, she became really interested. She then started coming out to the improv jams with me, which have become one of our favourite activities to do as a couple.” - Jasper
“The Improv Jam seemed like an awesome option for date nights - it’s engaging and playful, and allows us to flex our creative brains while still getting quality time together. We’ve found ourselves making new mutual friends together at The Making-Box. Which is something we’ve never really had since we met while living in different cities. I’m still pretty new to Guelph, but The Making-Box is our new favourite place to meet friends.” - Jen
“We wanted to have more fun in our lives. We had to young kids at home and being a parent can quickly suck the fun out of your life if you aren't careful. We started going to classes in KW held by TOTE (Theatre on the Edge). They were the only group offering improv classes at the time. We enjoyed the challenge and it made us laugh. And everyone would go out for a beer afterwards which was also a pleasant diversion from parenting.” - Brent and Eliza
“We both felt totally freaked out by it, and just kind of talked ourselves into it. It was our big Christmas present to each other.” - Zach and Tina
What Was it Like Improvising Together for the First Time?
“Our first time on stage together was at the most recent improv jam, when both our names were drawn for the same act. It was a long-form set, with several improvisers up on stage. I stepped into the scene as a cotton candy vendor, and a few moments later, she stepped on as the vendor's wife/partner. It felt like we were playing ourselves in an alternate universe, which was fun.” - Jasper
“It’s funny because I felt a bit nervous on our first time together on stage - Jasper is currently in level 3 improv, and I’m still quite new to it… but I realized quickly that there are no wrong answers with improv. We both supported each other in our set, and I see now how doing improv with others is uplifting and fun! No nerves needed.” - Jen
“I don't remember the first time Brent and I were in a scene together. But Brent recalls that at first, he was concerned about portraying himself negatively. He worried about saying things or being in a scene with another woman where there was an implied sexual relationship for fear of causing a rift between himself and me. But he did eventually realize that he was just playing characters as was I and it had no meaning outside of improv class. In fact, having the shared references allowed us to laugh about scenes later or bring back wonky characters into our everyday lives.” - Eliza
“It was exhilarating. I think the classes totally prepared us for a real audience.” - Zach and Tina
Do you like doing scenes together?
“Yes. I'm looking forward to more opportunities for us to explore our on-stage dynamic to see how weird it can get. Off-stage, we are really silly and random with each other, so doing improv scenes together feels like a natural extension of that, with an audience. We also decided that we are going to start playing improv games at home as an activity.” - Jasper
“Jasper makes short films at home, and sometimes asks me to act in scenes. I realized after doing improv with him at MB that it would be a great exercise to do some improv exercises at home before filming… it’s like the magic pill that shakes the nerves out!” - Jen
“Sometimes. We can take improv further with each other - like kissing, etc, and that can be shocking to an audience (which is always fun!). But we both like having the opportunity to perform with a variety of people. We can do improv together anytime. Class allows us the chance to play with others, too.” - Brent and Eliza
“I don't know if we have done any scenes together.” - Zach and Tina
Did you learn any lessons in improv that helped make your relationship stronger?
“I really appreciate that improv is a common activity that we can both do together. It's one thing for Jen to support me and watch me do improv, but to also participate and do it with me, is a big deal.” - Jasper
“Both of us feel very strongly about maintaining a healthy relationship, and we believe that being playful is critical to the success of it. Improv is a great mutual activity for us that reminds us to lighten up at the end of the day, and to let go of any pressure we put on ourselves. We are both trying to build creative careers which can be emotionally straining if we don’t pull away from it once in a while. Improv keeps our minds light and playful, and we love that time together.” - Jen
“We can't think of any specific lessons but improv has made us both more at ease being playful and spontaneous with each other on a regular basis (to the annoyance of our children!)” - Brent and Eliza
I think we both got in touch with a side of ourselves that had not been affirmed or allowed to come out for a while, that youthful, silly side. Seeing it in each other helped us to have more empathy in my opinion...That intention to fully hear what the other has said before responding is an excellent way to feel with them. You have to accept their version of the world before continuing.” - Zach and Tina
Did you learn anything else from improv you could apply to your relationship?
“A couple of recurring themes in improv is about being present and listening deeply. Being good at those two things are important in improv, and the same applies to our relationship.” - Jasper
“I wish Brent would "yes and" me more! Brent claims he does. Hmm...guess we need to keep doing more improv.” - Eliza and Brent
“I think we got a bunch of new inside jokes we can tell each other. Sometimes we just drop 'sex with me' references or 'yes and' ourselves into oblivion.” - Zach and Tina
So who knows, maybe your Valentine’s gift this year should be an improv class? Listening, laughing, being playful, it’s all in improv and it’s all in love. Guess the only way to find out if it will help your relationship is to try it yourself.
* Some answers edited for clarity and grammar