I started these Jams as a way to learn about managing and facilitating improv exercises for a remote audience. This was a selfish act, as in a few weeks I am facilitating a Collaborative Improv workshop for the IA Conference. You should attend by the way.
So when I started, I was worried. How do I translate in person exercises to the digital realm? I had to start somewhere. I chose the Jams.
What is a Jam you ask? An improv jam is basically a musical jam session, but for improv. Players assemble and just have fun for an hour or two. No shows, no formula, just some activities and exercises. And NO PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE REQUIRED.
Wait, I keep missing these!
So the Jams are held weekly on Thursdays at 8PM EDT. Our next session will is Thursday, April 23 at 8PM EDT. Register Here.
April 16 Jam Recap
This was a smaller jam, with only a handful of participants. And while I was nervous, I used it as an opportunity to explore some new games & activities. We played:
- Sentence Waterfall
- Red Ball, Thank You
- *Pass the Face
- Party Planning (Yes And)
- *Everybody Let’s
- Knife, Baby, Cat
- *Third Thought
- *World’s Worst Disco
- Premise Lawyer
- Crazy Eight’s (not played but introduced as a stress reliever)
*Indicates a new activity
Lessons on Facilitation
I goofed up on Pass the Face. In previous Jams, we used Soundball to define an order for participation. With fewer players in the Jam, I opted to skip the order-setting. This was a mistake. The value of having an order is really important in remote sessions. And you want to know who kept messing up the order? Me. The facilitator. Never underestimate the value of structure, no matter how practiced you are at an exercise and especially when adopting new technologies.
Start Slow, Build Up
Just as with real world workshops, you want to start easy. Last night, we played World’s Worst Disco for the first time. Personally, I had a blast and I plan to bring this into more Jam sessions. Being said, it would not be a good game to play as a starting warm-up. It requires a degree of comfort and trust, which only comes through time and experience. Start slow, build to complexity.
Give it a Try
Improvisational theater isn’t for everyone. But improv as a lens for life-skills, and a product designers, researchers, and team members can be for everyone. The Jams are meant to offer tools and time to release some stress and anxiety in these uncertain times. But they are also a gateway into the improv-as-a-toolkit mindset.
I was considering pulling my workshop registration because I thought it wouldn’t be as valuable to me as the in-presence experience but I think I changed my mind– Bibiana Nunes, @bibinex
Bibiana and I are good friends and I was thrilled she joined in our jam last night. What was more exciting was the reaction to joining the Jam, and how that built and reinforced the decision to join the full Collaborative Improv workshop on May 14 through the IA Conference. Give improv a try. It’s one of the most supportive group activities I have had the pleasure to participate in. And what’s a better time to try than now?
Want to Jam?
Our next session will be Thursday, April 23 at 8PM EDT. You can register here.
If you are part of a team, contact me and we can discuss a 30-45 minute session for your team. I want to offer Improv Jams for free (as much as that is feasible).
Be safe. Practice self care. We are in this together. Reach out to friends and colleagues if you are struggling.
And please, wash your hands.