I took an improv 101 class at UCB and took a 6 month hiatus before signing up for the next level. because let's be real...it's ain't cheap! I don't know that I actually thought through continuing with it, but I've been known to have impulsive spells and signed up a week before 201 was to begin.
Class ran for 8 weeks. 8 weeks of feeling like I had the chops for comedy superstardom! To feeling like I was the driest person to ever graze the planet. Most of the time I was thinking, hey just make the most of this and see what happens.
I didn't take Improv to be a better actor, I did it for fun. My classmates were 1000X funnier than me which resulted in me having zero expectations about my abilities. There's something nice about that, no expectations. It leaves all the room for failure but the failing doesn't hurt so bad because you're so dull to start with. By all means, this doesn't mean I don't want to improve. I've seen shows and aspire to be as quick witted and inherently amusing as the people who occupy those stages. In the meantime though, I'm ok with slowly trudging my way up each class level.
Regardless, I will say this: the community at UCB is fantastic. I almost felt like I was back in regular school with the sheer amount of people I met- most of them nice, interesting and genuine too! The majority of these people were from my actual class. The others I met at the cafe or at shows on sunset or franklin.
Would I recommend improv? Yes, if anything for the novelty of it. It forces you to think differently and simultaneously to not think at all. For a chronic loiterer who stalls around the hallways in my head, this is godsend. I haven't yet fully mastered it yet, but I've gotten better at paying attention to what's before me and not what's to come. I once asked my classmates how improv had helped their lives. Some mentioned overcoming stage fright, others gaining better listening. I on the other hand, couldn't yet give a reason. Now that class is over and I'm getting back to my regular routine, I think improv helped lower my anxieties. I was too busy improvising that I wasn't focusing on the things that stressed me out. Now that I'm consistently back in reality, I notice those stressors creeping back in. So what to do? More improv I guess!