Students of easylaughs - Jessica Liu

Like many other expats, I moved to Amsterdam four months prior to the first lockdown. In the first month of my new job, my colleague (whom I did not know that well at the time) came up to me at lunch and simply said: “I think you should try improv”. For some odd reason, I thought it was such a ridiculous idea, despite the fact that I have had my fair share of stage experience in university, so I shrugged it off. Fast forward to eight months in lockdown, when the craze over making sourdough bread is finally over, which was none of my business since I’m gluten-intolerant anyways and I joined my first improv class.

The quick dose of adrenaline that rushes through you when hitting that sign up button quickly subsided, and it slowly turned into an almost nerve-wracking feeling just before the first class began. It often comes as a surprise to others that I can get quite anxious in social settings with a lot of strangers, because I make YouTube videos for a living, so I must be comfortable in front of million pairs of eyes. But after a quick round of self-introduction, I realised everyone is just here to have a good time, perhaps a little added social interaction in an era of isolation, and this two-hour lesson per week is our common playground.

The improv class had ascended to be one of the things I look forward to in the week. I even longed the cold bike ride, just to see some familiar faces, and know for a fact that it will be another two hours where mistakes do not exist, and you can be whoever your mind takes you — even someone who burps every time they use the pronoun “I”. If you hadn’t mentioned we were in a lockdown, I would not have even remembered. Well, at least until someone comes up with a corona-related punchline.

Besides the applause, spotlight and the ego-stroke, here are two things I did not expect to find in improv: saying yes and being in the moment. I have found myself saying yes to things beyond improv, being open and willing to try things. Sure you might end up doing more things, but what is keeping you so busy in a lockdown anyways? This, along with being in the moment and just not plan a conversation ahead (because you simply cannot) I think, is a spirit we all need to have a little more.

At the end of the day, agreeing to things is much easier, right? (See what I did here? Tricking you to say YES!)