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My Improv Family

improv player group on stage

© 2016 Rick Sleeman

The Introduction

In August 2014, I met Christine Walters at Girl Scout kickoff. The encounter was pleasant but, at the time, I didn’t yet realize anything transformative had occurred. She was offering a Girl Scout night at ComedySportz® and, as a new Girl Scout troop leader, I thought that sounded like a fun event for the girls. We attended the scheduled event and the girls LOVED it! My daughters wanted more so I signed them up for the Little League at CSz to try it out for the end of the semester. Camden went back to SPARC afterward; Audrey couldn’t get enough. She loved it.

IDadaRod: Just this once…

In the spring of 2016, I participated in iDadaRod, a Father’s Day weekend event in which two matches would be dedicated to fathers competing against their children. I had no intention of doing more than making my daughter proud to be part of ComedySportz® and giving the kids fodder to crack-wise on each other with/about me, and have a memory of their silly dad. I took the classes leading up to the event and found them to be somewhat cathartic in the hectic life of a single dad of three very active daughters.

The weekend arrived and the matches were on! The first match was pretty exhilarating and the second more so. Aside from crushing my Audrey’s team (okay, we split in the competitions, but remember, I’m doing this to be able to pick on Audrey; so, for the purposes of this blog, I crushed her), I met a lot of fun and funny, talented people with intelligence and quick wits. This was an unexpected benefit.

The Turning Point

Unexpectedly, I was able to stay for the late (more adult) show. One of the Major League players volunteered me for a game in which I worked with each player on the stage in a different scene. I felt very in sync with each of the players and the scenes flowed. After the show was over, four of the Major League players pulled me aside and said, “You know, you should be doing this, right?”

What do you say to that? It’s quite the compliment coming from these talented people. They told me that if I could make it I should sign up for an upcoming Adult 101 class. My life is very hectic, so I’m usually a little concerned about piling on more activities. My schedule that regularly does not have room actually kind of fit. (Divine intervention – you decide?)

CSz 101: Beginning Improv for Adults

I took the Adult 101 class to have fun figuring that these people must put a lot into this to put out what they do; there’s no way I will have time at the end of this for anything new. The class was wonderful and full of games and silliness but at the root was fun, comedy, and camaraderie. Something needed by this guy with a full time job and who is a dad 100% of the time. At the end, students put on a public showcase. Unlike iDadaRod, where family and friends were there, this time scheduling was a problem and I was alone (but I wasn’t really). Not having my family may have helped me focus on making sure my teammates and audience had fun and it may have been one of my best shows to-date. Folks from one Minor League team and then the other were asking me to join. It was very flattering.

Minor League Improv

I chose Minor League Team 1 because it met on the only day I could make it. I did not know what I was in for. Just like 101, it was fun and funny. The difference is it’s on-going, so these folks get to know you. Time and situation bring quick closeness in those two hours a week and they are now like family. The experience weaves outward from there. The more you put in, the more you get. It’s amazing the embrace from joining this tribe. Right away, I was included in things inside and outside of CSz with these wonderful people. I feel a sense of growing together, as do my kids.

improv players on stage

© 2016 Rick Sleeman

The Tournament of Northern Aggression (the family embrace)

My girls and I went to the Tournament of Northern Aggression and upon arrival, I was told about someone needing to speak to me. As a spectator, I was very curious. One of the night’s performers came to me and told me that at least one part of the show would not be family-friendly and exactly when I may want to go for ice cream. To my amazement, not only did we know when to step out, but it was mentioned during the show that ‘for those with impressionable folks in attendance…’.

We walked back in after the bit was done and then one of the performers said something that sent us back outside which got a tremendous laugh. Protecting my kids became part of the show. My heart was warmed by the care and concern and I shared that to the response of, ‘your family now…’

What’s better than that?

I could not be more thankful to be included in this tribe as family and to have my family along for that ride.

Greg Sparrow has been a Minor League Player at ComedySportz® since 2016.

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