Improv class at Arcade Comedy Theater.

After that, we paired up and had to introduce our partner to the entire class. You think you’re really complex and interesting until you have to tell a stranger the coolest things about you. I was like, I work and have kids and bills that I pay and sometimes I do karaoke? I’m killing it!

Now that we all knew a little bit about each other, it was back to the circle. Instead of clapping, we played Zip Zap Zop, which I remember as a drinking game from college but apparently it has its roots in improv. You pass your energy to someone (Zip!), they pass it to someone else (Zap!), who then passes it on to someone else (Zop!). The game continues like this for some time, with folks zipping and zopping all over the place. The goal again is to watch people, to react, and not try to predict what’s coming next.

I got really excited when Kristy announced the next activity, a cocktail party! Which, alas, did not include actual cocktails. We all had to pretend to be at a cocktail party, only instead of English, we could only speak in nonsensical jibbersh. Which, to be honest, isn’t too far off of some of the actual cocktail parties I’ve attended.

We ended the class with a four-person short form, where the two people in the middle had to translate for the two people at the end. This felt like the closest to actual improv to me, but since I’ve never actually done improv, I don’t know if I’m a reliable source on that one.

The first class took an arc that mirrors many evenings in my life; I started off nervous, made myself look silly, drank some cocktails, and ended up speaking jibberish. Any anxiety I felt at the beginning of class had totally melted. I was home.

Whether I’m funny or not remains to be seen, but I’m back to being thrilled that I made the leap to sign up. Little tip from me to you: the next time you’re in an awkward situation, make everyone stand in a circle and clap. Should make for some interesting meetings and happy hours.

Until next time,


Bethany Ruhe works in public relations and lives in Beechview with her partner and son. She is a sometime blogger who wants to make 2016 her year. For what remains to be seen.

Bethany is a full-time public relations professional who loves her family, her city, traveling, and wine. "I'm an adventurer to my core and start lots of sentences with 'Do you know what we should try...'. So far, so good!"