Online Beginners Improv Course – Interview with Jon Nguyen
Your online beginners’ improv course starts on 4th January, what do you like about teaching beginners improv courses?
I love the connectivity that improv generates, as well as the positivity and a beginners course is easily the best way to get onto that road. Seeing the faces of joy the students have as they have fun brings me a great sense of contentment.
What excited you most when you started improv?
The feeling of the unknown and being able to be anything. That feeling of support is like no other, being able to try anything and having your teammates make your ideas shine is so wonderful. It excited me when I started and still excites me today.
Can you describe a particularly magical moment from a workshop or show either from when you were starting out or with beginner improvisers you’ve taught?
Early on, I remember getting the suggestion of snacks and like magic, my scene partner and I both decided to be biscuits in a kitchen cupboard. It was an amazing moment of telepathy. We were emotionally attached to each other and that one scene has led me to have one of the best friends I have in my life.
What other artists or companies, improv or otherwise inspired you to start improvising and why?
I started my journey with Dogface Improv, The Nursery and the Maydays. All of whom encouraged me to share my experiences and skills with the world at large and all helped me believe in myself. Mike McShane inspired me when I first began. From watching him play Friar Tuck in that Kevin Costner film to listening to him make up songs was amazing to me. At the time I saw him perform he was not what you would call the classically good looking hero type. He was quirky and larger than the average human and appeared fearless. I remember thinking, I want to do those things because I am quirky and large and I wanted to be fearless. Another artist who inspires me is Donald Glover a brilliant entertainer who shows feelings and joy and makes incredibly intelligent choices without ever losing their childfulness.
How do you feel online improv interacts with improv for total beginners? Are there any benefits?
Online improv is slightly different to in improv, it has a greater level of listening required I feel, partly to account for sound delays and the occasional poor internet connection. I think you have to be really present with your teammates and treat it akin to dance where you are both leading, navigating your way around. When done with grace, joy and connectivity it is a magical thing and as it is such an unexplored area of improv, all beginners are pioneers of this format. Finding new things and creating art together. For beginners, the idea of an audience can be scary, and so one of the benefits of online improv is that there is that extra step removed from an actual audience and you have a greater sense that you are playing for each other, and doing what makes you as a group happy.
What is your advice for someone wanting to get started in improv?
If you want to get into improv, then do it, but learn patience. We all want to be great at something straight away and this can lead to frustration. Give yourself permission to take it slow. Also, try to get things wrong, you will soon find out it’s pretty hard to fail and you will discover what makes things fun and easy for yourself whilst at the same time pushing your boundaries just a little bit.
A being from another planet who only understands tweet-length sentences is interested in taking your course – how will you describe it to them?
Improv for me is about fun, connectivity and inclusivity. That recipe allows joy and playfulness and I hope to inspire both in every lesson you take.