Text by Anna Haavisto, FiiF2018 Producer

I participated in FiiF in 2014 and 2015 as an audience member, and the summer of 2016 I took some workshops in addition. I wanted to learn more about improv and I knew FiiF was connected with The improvAcademy (now YesFinland) and I thought that could be a good place to go to. I also knew that The iA offered a Chicago style approach to improv which differs from the Johstonian style that is better known in Finland and to which I was accustomed to. I was happy to find out that there was one course available called “The Four Longforms”. I had done longform before and thought to myself: “I can do that”. So I summoned the courage to write to Trent (Pancy) and ask if I could take the course with my improv background. And he said yes! (Like every good improviser would.)

So, come that Monday when the course starts and I walk into iA with trepidation. Of course I know no one in the course and naturally feel like an outsider. Everyone else seems to know each other. But I feign confidence and try to look as though I’m totally at home in the company of all these strangers. The course is taught by Trent and goes well enough so I decide to take another course. This one is “Pay Attention” with a guest teacher Noah Levin from Barcelona Improv Group. Again, the class is full of unfamiliar faces but I don’t mind. It is so much fun!

After that I just go crazy and take course after course after course. And I love it! I get to challenge myself with new things and I learn to improvise in ways I never ever have before. I learn and realise that improv is about having fun, not trying to be funny.

Now, almost two years later, I honestly think I am a much better improviser than I used to be. I’m a regular performer in YesFinland House Teams and I’ve been coaching the YesFinland Farm Team, The Sprouts. Something I would not have expected to happen when I first started studying here…

If you’re looking for a place to start your improv journey or develop your improv skills, I highly recommend YesFinland. There is regularly a new bootcamp for beginners and after that, a step by step program teaching you the foundations of improv and beyond that. The courses teach the fundamental stuff and progress to cultivate you as an improviser. You should take a course even if you already perform, chances are you will find new zip, zap and zog to your improv. (An improv warm-up joke, sorry, I just had to…)  

Every Thursday at 8pm YesFinland runs improvised comedy shows with varying formats at O’Connell’s Irish Bar in Tampere. Most of the nights I’m there. Either watching or performing. The people I didn’t know in the beginning are now very dear to me. Who knew?