John Mc

This is a collection of my thoughts. Some of the thoughts that I once had, I no longer do. Some thoughts I have now I have never had. Yet none shal be discounted. This blog is soley for the enjoyment of the author and the readers. On occasion the views expressed are overly exagerated in order to prove a point. Also there may be a dirty word or thought in some of the posts. Grow up and take this for what it's worth - a blog that barely anyone will ever see.


Making Stuff Up Part One

It has been too long since I've posted. I'm sorry about that. I promised a good friend on Sunday that I would post again this week, so here I am. (I hope The Big D is kind to you!)
I have had much occur in the past year or so that has gone undocumented.
First and foremost, I tried my hand at improv. It is something that I had been meaning to do for a long time and finally decided to go for it. The way it went down was rather ambitious on my part, if I do say so myself.
A good friend of mine agreed to do the improv training course at Second City with me a while ago. We kept on missing the open registration for classes. Each time one of us thought about it, we would check Second City's website and then realize that we had missed the sign up by a few days and the new session had begun. Unfortunately this went on for a good half a year or so.
Finally, I was able to find the enrollment period. I told my friend that we should both sign up. She, being a teacher, told me of her long days and questioned whether or not she would have the time to dedicate to the program.
So, I put it off again until summer of 2008. I told her again of the sign-up period. She told me of her summer tutoring that she was involved in and wanted to wait until next time. I decided that this was my time. This was when I was going to give it a shot.
So, I went for it. I had NO idea what I was getting into, but figured it would be worth the adventure. I was right. It all started in a small L-Shaped room in the back of the training center. It was me and 9 other aspiring improvisers.
Our teacher was a great man by the name of Brian Possen. If you ever have the opportunity to check out his show "Cupid Has A Heart On" at The iO Theater in Chicago, I highly recommend it! He was the perfect person to start us off on our journey. While Level A was rather frustrating, he made it fun. There was a great deal of "Wax On, Wax Off" kind of work in the class. It was pretty apparent what we were learning and the reason why, but we were all anxious to put our newly found skills to work.
Possen also told us on the first day of class that the schedule may say the class ends at 9:30, but that's not the case. After class we were told to go across the street to have a pint with our classmates and discuss what we had learned. Then, pay the tab and head back to Second City to see the free improv that they have at 10:00. Then, back to the pub to compare notes and see where what we learned was used in the show.
It was a brilliant suggestion that paid off greatly. Not only did it reinforce what we had learned in class, but it encouraged us to grow closer as a group of newly budding improvisers!
The way Second City's training center works is that there are 5 levels - A through E. With each level, your skills are supposed to build upon the previous level and expand from there. It is a rather well devised system.
Due to financial concerns, I stopped after Level A. This was a hard thing to do, but I had just moved to a new apartment and was strapped for cash. It would be two semesters before I got back into the improv world. Since then, those that stuck with my original class had continued on while I sat on the sidelines. I even went to one of their shows. While it was awesome to see the same people that I had played with in class on stage, it hurt a little bit knowing that I could have been up there with them, had I had the opportunity to do so.
I got back on the horse and started up the classes again. One more semester of Level B and then I needed to stop. Once again, money was the main concern. Plus I had just added another course at the college and I had to focus on writing and teaching that course. The timing was just bad. This time, though, I only took off one semester and decided that I would ride out the rest of the levels in order. Level C started the summer of 2009 for me and I went straight through to Level E.
While there will always be some degree of regret that I never got to join the stage with my original class and some of the great performers like the great Liz Grossman, (Her blog "Elizabites" is available on the right of this page.) I feel that there was a reason that I got to work with the class that I did.
At the end of Level C, you get to do roughly a 15 minute show. Level D gave you a 30 minute show and the grand finale' was Level E with a show for nearly an hour.
Over the course of the next few days, I will let you in on a few of the behind-the-scenes moments of these shows, the preparation and some stories about the improv prep that we did as a class and the instructors that we had.
What you will see in the video below is my first time on stage. This was right after my Level C class. It is this group of people that I stuck with throughout the remainder of my Second City Training Center experience.
You'll note that some are good, some are not-so-good. But, the way the training center works is that if your check clears, then you are free to continue. There is no bearing on skill level to determine your progress through the program. Plus, keep in mind, this is the first time that many of us were ever on stage! We were all a bit nervous.
The "Announcer" or "Host" is our instructor Sabrina Harper. She was great. She really understood how to notice our weaknesses and correct them before they became habits. She also was great at praising our strengths and encouraging those to come to the surface. Harper was passionate without being overbearing. Essentially, she let us know that playtime was over and we were about to learn the real ins and outs of being true improvisers. All-in-all, she embodied exactly what we needed at that time.

Without any further ado, here is the first time that I was ever on stage:


  • At 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Who this Sabrina you speak of??? Ha! Miss you guys John! Thnaks for the nice comments. xo S

  • At 9:43 PM, Blogger LG said…

    JMC..thank you for the shout out! We missed you too! The question is...Conservatory next??


  • At 5:50 PM, Anonymous Kim said…

    Thanks John! You made it before I left IL as promised. :P I love it here so far. Your first time on stage was pretty darn good! I think you will be very good at this. Keep the blogs and video coming so I can keep up :)


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