We know better

The brilliant improvisor and teacher Amanda Murphy with some powerful words for the men of improv.

The improv men of today, were in classes taught by the generation before, and before. There are not one or two harassing teachers, but an entire system of men raised to see a sexualized professional environment as normal, and an entire generation of women raised to believe that they had to be tough enough to take it.

I was told (all the women in the class) at my first short form class that we had to be really tough and fast to 'keep up with the boys'.

That teacher was a woman, who no doubt was told (learned by experience) that this was true. We were being warned. More to the point, we were being instructed that the males made the rules of engagement, and we had to follow them or not make the cut. Think about what that taught the men in the room! Also in a beginner improv class, they were just told what they do is right, and if the women didn't like it, the women were bad improvisers. By a female teacher.

"When you know better, you do better."

We know better.

In the last 24 hours, there cannot be a single person in our community who can claim innocence, can claim there's no problem. In fact, we've known for a long time this stuff isn't ok, some people have just been having too much fun to change it.

We now need to change.

"Diversity is necessary to make change."

There are women (and men) I am teaching right now who've never had the thought that women aren't funny, because they've grown up watching amazingly funny women across the media landscape. Fey, Pohler, Maddow. They don't need to be told to keep up, they are defining the new funny. If you're over the age of, let's say 20, you need to catch up.

"Tell me how I, as a man, can help."

Speak up. Talk to your pals, not just the one weirdo in the class you feel comfortable taking down. Tell the funniest guy you know, what he did wasn't cool. If you're a teacher, for the love of all that's good, act like a professional. Your students aren't jailbait. They are paying your rent.

If you're a theater owner, protect your investment and talk to your staff now about the new metric. Shake off your laissez-faire attitude. Get an HR rep. Be a business person.

And, I'm done. Unless I think of something else, because there's no time limit on getting through this.


Amanda has studied and worked in comedy and musical theater throughout Toronto, Chicago, and New York. She is a composer and lyricist for several groups, including the award winning musical four play which she also co-wrote. She music directs at iO, ComedySportz, the SCTC, and the Annoyance, and freelances for several groups around the city. She is also a performer, playing in both MIHE and SongCo, and in BattleProv at CSz. She has many musical theater credits and sings professionally with both choirs and big bands.

Written 6 years, 3 months ago.
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