We put Mitri, Moore and Nava on the spot and asked them for advice on what makes improv work.
Go with the flow. There can’t be any doubt about where the scene is leading, even if the subject is ridiculous. “If somebody says the sky is falling, then the sky is falling,” Moore says.
Don’t stall. It’s uncomfortable to not know what’s going to happen next when there’s no script to recite. Stay away from asking questions to fill awkward moments, Moore says. Instead make broad, confident statements to move the scene forward.
Listen up. Being aware of what’s happening around you will guide you during a scene. “If you don’t listen to what’s going on, you’re not going to be able to apply that to the next line, the next scene,” explains Nava.
Three guys walked into a bar — none of them were a priest or rabbi. But when Don Mitri, Charles Moore and Austin Nava met two years ago at a Powerhouse Pub improv event, they started talking about the Cleveland comedy scene and decided it was no laughing matter.
The closing of Second City’s Cleveland training center had left no place for actors and comedians to hone their skills. So the trio got to work and hope to fill that void with the Cleveland Improv Institute opening this month.
“What we’re really trying to do with the students that come to us is really create that complete performer, where they can take the skills that we give them here and take them anywhere across the country,” Mitri says.
It’s a place for anyone who wants to learn more about improv: public speakers, actors who want to take their craft to the next level or people just looking for a good time. If you’re just starting out, Mitri suggests trying the six-week Intro to Improv class. The more advanced should opt for the Fundamentals of Improv, an eight-week gig.
“We have to build that interest and that new blood in the city again,” he says. “There’s a lot of people that do improv, but there are thousands who see it on TV and think about doing it, and we haven’t touched any part of that yet.”