Someone recently asked me if I had already sent in my intern application for the next term. My gut reaction was, “Oh no, I need to write a reminder to do that.” And then the realization hit me like all the times I’ve walked into a wall—I don’t have another class to take next term; my seven-term intern streak is coming to an end soon.
I signed up to be a night intern for level two, one of those sweet, patient students that you see working the door, stocking the bar, seating you, and running around trying to figure things out. I started working Wednesday nights, which happened to be (at the time) King of the Mountain and then the Jam. I like to think that being an intern is a very special experience, but that being a Wednesday intern was an even more unique experience. I got to be involved on a night where veteran performers were going up against new troupes at King of the Mountain, and then for the Jam where they were all playing together, being weird and having fun.
Witnessing this collaboration from behind the scenes taught me so much about improv, performing, and friendship. As my time as an intern comes to an end, I wanted to share a microscopic slice of what I’ve learned during my tenure.
You’ll get to know the people you look up to. When I started interning, there were so many performers that I looked up to and never thought I’d be lucky enough to call friends. When you’re a new improviser, or when you’re me, it can be an intimidating thing; to remember that everybody has been a new improviser looking up to a veteran performer can be tricky. I’m so lucky that I can call so many people I looked up to (and still do) friends now.
The Jam is about support. The Jam is The Jam. Sometimes it can be hard to watch, but ultimately, it’s about unconditional support. I remember my very first Jam I participated in, I ended up on stage with a bunch of great performers and I was terrified, but they weren’t there to tell me my ideas were too weird or that I was doing anything wrong, they were there to have fun and support each other, providing that sigh of relief that everything was going to be OK. I watched countless Jam scenes while interning, some good, some bad, but always a little heartwarming because everybody has everybody’s back.
Seat from front to back. No really, just do it. It matters. Amanda is right.
We’ve all been brainwashed, Pavlov’s Dogs style. I’m not talking the troupe P Dogs (though maybe they had a part in this), but the actual psychological experiment where Pavlov conditioned a dog to salivate when it heard a bell. I remember one night I was working the door, talking to a performer, and waiting for a show to start when we heard the first 13 seconds of Blink 182’s “All the Small Things” and we both automatically thought the show was starting. I still can’t hear the first 13 seconds of that song without a tinge of panic that someone should be on stage by now introducing the first troupe.
Jump in. I will fully admit that it takes a while for me to warm up to new environments and feel like I’m in my element. A general feeling of anxiety and awkwardness may be to blame, which is one of the reasons I started improv in the first place. I had no idea what I was doing when I put on that red DCH Staff shirt the first time, I was anxious about doing the job correctly, but interning became about so much more than just the duties. It became about jumping in head first to the deep end of the pool when you only kind of know how to swim. It was about fully immersing myself in the DCH community, watching people perform, making friends that support each other, and watching people do endless bits at the bar.
Jessica Dorrell is a graduate of the DCH improv program, and is currently enrolled in the sketch writing program. Her one wish is that some day she can have a Mogwai as a pet. You can see her perform every Thursday at 9:30 p.m. in the current Ewing show.