Get paid to play? Yes, And… after paying your improv dues as you hone your chops.
As a career improvisor, starting as a kid with early theater camp improv games-
and after college becoming a long term ensemble member of an early improv/sketch comedy troupe in Cleveland- the creative magic, rather than the money- was the motive. Yes, And…building the momentum.
Back in the day, the seven if us Improv Dwarfs would meet for 3 hours in the evening, three times a week for about 6 months before we were performance ready. We started out showcasing at small local theaters. (unpaid) We got seen by comedy club bookers, event planners, corporate trainers and advertising folks who saw our unbridled spontaneous combustion as an effective, fresh creative resource. We got booked at a regular weekly gig where a yet-undiscovered Drew Carey was our opening act at the old Cleveland Comedy Club. After we built the momentum the money merged with the magic and we were able to nicely subsidize our income.
Voice-over careers were inspired by this early improv work. The Mr. Hero, Sherwin-Williams and other major account ad folks saw our shows and hired us to write and voice their client's radio campaigns. The wide menu of dynamic character voices and celebrity impressions caught the ear of multi-media and live event producers who hired us for a variety of videos, trade shows and special events. Several of our members were hired by DisneyWorld to perform nightly shows at their Comedy Warehouse in Orlando for a few years. When The Second City came to Cleveland,
we were recommended and hired to become cast members and instructors. Many of us continued teaching improv as we continued to expand/advance our own training.
In 1994 I began my business theater company, Out To Lunch Events and have purposefully incorporated improvisation within every inspired and nicely compensated project. Improv has also enhanced my radio show (and subsequent ratings/sponsors) as I spar in spontaneous verbal foreplay with my guests and call in listeners. Yes, And…the gift of gab can grab you some green.
I still get a thrill teaching improv and I'm still regularly honing my chops with a great group of improv alums in LA (Guerilla Improv Troupe).
Getting paid to play? Yes…And…
The compensation takes on multiple meanings and takes a Three-Way Split between:
The Magic, The Momentum, and The Money.
May you find all this and More.