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Monkey Business Institute cast members and other improv comedians duke it out at the 5th annual Improv Retreat

Improv Retreat

Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah: Reflecting On the 5th Annual Improv Retreat

My five takeaways from camp

For the 5th year in a row, a swarm of MBI members and local improv enthusiasts drove to Camp Beber near Mukwonago, Wisconsin to attend The Improv Retreat. For those unfamiliar with The Improv Retreat, it’s a yearly, weekend-long meet up where hundreds of improvisers from all around the world gather to immerse themselves in improv. There are shows, workshops, discussion sessions about sensitive topics – such as racial and gender equality in improv – and lots of time spent playing like kids in the woods.

Having been to every Improv Retreat, I can confidently declare this year’s weather to have been the best yet. The warm temps and breezy winds made for good moods and a joyful time spent in the outdoors.

Here are my biggest takeaways from this year’s event:

  1. Being aware of your own biases – and correspondingly changing your language and behavior while improvising – does not mean you’re limiting your improv possibilities on stage. Instead, doing so means you’re creating the safest space possible for free, creative expression.
  2. You can’t become a stronger improviser without sucking on stage. In other words, if you don’t try the things that you’re bad at, you’ll never get better.
  3. It’s very difficult to be fully present with another person if you’re just waiting for them to finish so you can say or do the thing you’ve been holding in your head. The best thing you can do to make a deep connection with them is look them in the eye and listen just to listen, without a thought in your mind about what you’ll do when they’re done.
  4. It’s okay to play, drink milk, and take naps.
  5. Peter makes a killer rum punch.

Thanks to the organizers for – er – organizing another great event; I can’t wait for next year’s!

One Happy Camper,