Respect and Appreciating the Teachers
Improv lover Joe Kovach shares his thoughts on improv teachers.
During my four years at Columbia College Chicago, I was taking classes at Second City and iO and discovering this art form from great teachers. In my senior year, I took a class called Acting & Performing with Brian Posen and the late Nana Shineflug and on the very first day of class, Brian named three teachers who he thinks of as “true masters.” He also said something else that day which was,
“If you find someone you connect with and work very well with, whether it is a friend or a teacher, hold on to that and never let it go.”
I started thinking about that a lot when it came to the teachers I was learning from and started giving credit to them the same way the great blues musicians did for each other.
I have been very fortunate to have had many amazing, inspiring, and influential teachers who I am now able to call my friends. They have been very nurturing, helpful, direct, and honest. I think sometimes people take their teachers for granted because people are trying to get to the next gig or get better.
I suggest spending some time with your teachers outside of the classroom whether it’s at a show or getting coffee with them. They could be your next collaborator in a show you might be doing.
The teachers in the improv community have always had a family vibe to them. From my experience, they can act like a parent or a relative just by seeing how you’re doing and checking in how everything is going. Also, if something bad happens and you need someone to talk to, they are always there for you and they will always listen and talk you through stuff. A little over a year ago, I was in the process of moving forward following a series of emotional life changes and I wasn’t sure if I was able to keep improvising anymore.
Then, out of the blue, I received a Christmas gift that included a note from my mentor Rachael Mason. All it said was this:
Joe, Be strong, kind, smart, and do it with love and joy. You’re the best! xoxox Rachael.
It moved me very much and I’m still grateful for that. Improv teachers are some of the most generous people you will ever meet so take advantage because they will always be there for you.
Also, just because they are your teachers doesn’t mean that they owe you something. At the end of the day, they are there to give you instruction and works of inspiration, not to get you an audition for TourCo.
The teachers of the improv community, whether at Second City, iO, the Annoyance, ComedySportz, or anywhere else, are very extraordinary, brilliant, and funny people and they are there to inspire you. I can go on about all of my teachers, but to make a long point short,
BE INSPIRED BY THEM.
Live - Laugh - Love.
As Martin deMaat said, “You are pure potential.”
Thank you for reading.
Joe Kovach is an actor, improviser and writer residing in Chicago, IL. A graduate of the theater program at Columbia College Chicago as well as the Second City Conservatory and iO programs, he has performed at Second City, iO, the Annoyance, The Shithole, and several places around town in various groups. He is also very involved in the Second City Training Center, helping out the Improv For ASD program. He owes his family, friends, mentors, and improvisation everything.
Joe is a huge part of the Today Improv family so check out his blog.
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