Sunday, April 19, 2009

First Improv Class

I haven't blogged much lately, but plan to get "back on the horse" soon. My wife, who works in banking, needed one more class to finish her Masters, which has meant a busy semester for both of us, especially her. She finishes in about ten days and walks across the stage at Drake University in early May. That was one reason but I also fell behind in the administrative side of the practice of law and have been using my non-work time to catch up on billing.

But I did something this year that I've wanted to do for a long time. I signed up for an Improv class. Don Fiedler brought many of these techniques to NCDC and his stories about using these techniques in trial, and even before the Eighth Circuit, piqued my interest. Then, getting the chance to work with the great Josh Karton at TLC taught me how much actors have to teach lawyers. Finally, this post by Mark Bennett prompted me to buy the book and finally take the plunge.

Last Tuesday, at our first class, I felt a little like Michael Scott at his Improv Class, hoping not to be the "old guy" who nobody wanted to hang out with afterward and whose improv revealed more issues than laughs.

But I loved it. What was amazing was that the best things happened when I didn't have time to think. When I tried to be funny, I wasn't, but when I didn't try, it was not only fun for me but (at least slightly) funny for the class.

I was impressed by the way the instructor listened and wonder if doing improv helps improve listening skills, which Gerry Spence describes as one of the most important skills a trial lawyer can learn.

I'm not quitting my day job and am glad it's only a small class. "Whose Line" will have to wait a few years, I guess. But I can't wait for the next class and hope that I can use it in court, if nothing else but to make work more playful, and hopefully more effective. I'll keep you posted.


Anonymous said...

David Tarrell said...

Thanks for the link. I know some lawyers in NJ who might be interested. Nice to see someone putting this training into practice for lawyers.

Dave Tarrell

Online Marketing Consultant said...

Improv can be very fun and rewarding. It's helped me clear my head in conversations and listen better. Improv nyc is great because everyone in classes are chill and it's easy to make friend.

Good luck with classes David!