The photo above was taken on 3/22/12. At the Wednesday night Improv Jam at the UCB Theatre East, the jammers presented Grandma’s Ashes with a card congratulating us on being moved to Saturday nights. Receiving that card on stage was so overwhelmingly meaningful. Reading the card and seeing everyone’s notes about how the Jam has meant a lot to them, needless to say we were all backstage in the green room reading the card and feeling very emotional.
Tomorrow, Grandma’s Ashes will host our last Jam at 11pm at UCB East. The wonderful Harold Team Guthrie will host the Jam moving forward which is wonderful as they are a fantastic, enthusiastic, and an awesome team. I was just going through e-mails and found the e-mail from Nate Dern on 8/31/11 asking us if we’d like to host Jammin’ With Ralph. As we thought about how to best encourage folks to come and play, we changed the name to “The Improv Jam” hoping it would be an inviting title for anyone who wanted to jam. We have hosted every Wednesday night since then. Little did we know that week after week, more Jammers would come, so many returning each week, sometimes as many as 75 people put their names in the bucket, excited to take the stage.
As I think about tomorrow, I think about how much The Jam has meant to me. It has been the show that has made me feel the most a part of the UCB community. I love seeing Jammers perform for the first time and the 100th time. Giving high-fives as everyone leaves the theatre and chatting with Jammers afterwards about how much they enjoyed jamming or how they put their name in the bucket, but didn’t go up, but are planning to come back the next week to Jam. Being a part of Grandma’s Ashes, a team that loves the Jam so much and each other that we loved taking the stage every Wednesday night. Sometimes dancing long after everyone cleared the theatre and sitting in the green room together, catching up and talking about our weeks. I love my teammates so dearly and the Jam has been another opportunity to spend with them every week—something that I will very much miss.
To all the Jammers, thank you for letting us be a part of your improv experience. Thank you for all your energy and for staying with us until the very end of the Jam, cheering on your fellow Jammers. And in the spirit of the Jam, I hope you all will continue to keep our Jam rules alive:
1) If I can hear your tag-in it’s too hard. Don’t slap each other hard on the backs. The tag-in is an opportunity to make physical contact with someone so they know that you are tagging them out and you are taking their place in the scene. Loud smacks are jarring and unnecessary.
2) Treat everyone’s bodies with care. The Jam is filled with improvisers who are there for the first time and others the 100th. You don’t know everyone’s comfort zones, so play it safe, be respectful. Body slams are not necessary for a great scene.
3) Don’t call people “bitch”, “slut”, or “whore” in scenes. If you do, I’m going to talk to you afterwards. These words are cheap attempts to get a reaction. They are an attempt to impress the audience by putting someone down in a scene. But the truth is, they make you like an idiot. Expand your mind. Treat your scene partner like a gem. Don’t put them down to make yourself feel empowered.
4) Support each other and have fun. The Jam is an opportunity to play with people you’ve never played with before. It’s a chance to work that muscle of support to the max, supporting someone who might be brand new to improv or may have been doing it for years. Listen, react, and treat your scene partner’s words like tiny gifts that you get to open and embrace on stage.
Thank you all for making The Jam so special. I am truly going to miss it, but can’t wait to see what’s to come for The Jam.