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Presence Matters
by Camille Catherine Safsten

People have said that talent, experience, and age in improv doesn’t matter. Take a deeper look into age. Everybody has an equal amount of talent in improv, but does the age of an improviser affect the experience they have?


Many improvisers have been on dozens of stages, and gone to different states to perform, so they might have more experience than another/younger improviser. “I kind of look at the improv age now. How long someone has been doing it as oppose to how long someone has been alive,” says Aidan Steenblik.

One simple thing that matters is your presence. With this simple thing you gain knowledge, courage, and friends in improv. Your presence will earn you the simplicity of experiencing improvisation.

Most importantly, you learn to accept everything, and all types of people

Younger improvisers can have a different outlook on improvisation. They don’t always see what the older more life-experienced improvisers see. They may be put in different situations that they have never even thought to experience, and are constantly surrounded by ideas they don’t know the meaning of. “There is a larger world view when you perform with someone who is older than high school years. They bring more life experience and background to the improv table,” Jake Plumley. Being a younger improviser myself, I sometimes feel out of the circle when a joke about a guy who lived twenty years ago is made, and I just don’t get it. It can get very frustrating at times.

At the same time the older improvisers are learning from you. You get to remind them to not just look at the reason that is ‘correct’, but all the different directions that can be taken. You get to teach them how to laugh at the little things again. You are a little ball of energy that gets to shine.

Younger improvisers also get a chance to learn. You get to learn about the guy who lived twenty years ago, and the next time he’s brought up, you get your chance to laugh. You learn about life in general and in depth. People teaching you to make everyone important, and to let things happen, surround you. Most importantly, you learn to accept everything, and all types of people. While being around people that teach you this, you also learn that you are being accepted, and that is a wonderful feeling.

Your presence will earn you the simplicity of experiencing improvisation

There is the Jell-O stage in life (kids & teenagers). The Jell-O stage in life is where you are still trying to find out who you are, and who you could be. You haven’t found it yet, so you haven’t ‘set’ yet. You can still change your personality, surroundings, and friends, out-look on life, etc… What a greater thing to help you to find these answers during this stage than improv, and it’s people. You learn to sincerely accept people of any nature. You learn to laugh. “I love to give some advice. The young kids tend to listen”, Troy Taylor. You can be comfortable around people no matter what situation you are put into, because you have gained confidence in yourself.

One of these situations you are put into is being around older people. At first it is intimidating, because you are used to the cool older people looking at you like an annoying little person. Then you realize that these people like you. Once you get into the groove of things, you feel immediate comfort, hope, and friendship. You find what you’ve been looking for, and start to ‘set’.

This is truly a life changing experience.

People that you look up to are enjoying being with you, because you are you. And you add things to the improv community that nobody else can. To a Jell-O stage person, this is golden. Improv in anyone’s life is Golden. After all, your presence will earn you the simplicity of improvisation, but the person you become along the way is priceless.

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