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Improvisational Comedy Can be Serious Business

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Improv Effects

The skill of expressing ideas, responding quickly, and building relationships with clients and co-workers is important for any business. But it isn’t always easy. That’s where Improv Effects of Kalamazoo helps by applying improvisational techniques once only used in the theatre to the business sector.

During these sessions the team help create a supportive environment that removes fear, judgment, and self-doubt, that is crucial to team building and collaboration in the workplace.

The brainchild of two improv comedy performers Brian Lam and Dann Sytsma, the lively team-building workshops were a natural extension of their unique backgrounds. The impressive list of clients has grown quickly for this eclectic training program over the past three years.

“With local support for the arts, it makes sense we would be a good fit in Kalamazoo,” said Sytsma. “This is a good culture for it. Arts want to connect with businesses, and businesses can learn from the arts.”

Sytsma has been performing improvisational theatre since 1997. He trained at the Improv Olympic (iO) in Chicago and he has worked with and mentored some of the top improv performers locally.

Sytsma’s professional history is in chemistry, which is what brought him to Kalamazoo. He is also the owner of Crawlspace Theatre Productions and the founder of local improv troupe Crawlspace Eviction.

Lam’s improvisational experience includes studying at the Second City theatre in Chicago, in both the improv and creative writing programs. Since then he has performed with comedy troupes in Chicago, and currently performs locally with the improv troupe Crawlspace Eviction.

Lam’s background and career includes sales and creative management, copy writing, and focus group facilitation. He returned to Kalamazoo to start a family and in 2011 established Lam Creative Solutions, a marketing/PR firm that provides written, audio, and visual content to businesses as well as creative strategies.

So, what about Improv Effects makes it work? For starters, no one ever leaves bored or tired and everyone is accepted. Training in the form of workshops, videos, and one-on-one coaching, provides valuable communication tools when it's time to go "off script."

Workshops include building skills of how to think on your feet through active listening, how to draw the best out of others in effort to reach a singular goal, and learning about change management and team building through techniques that are inclusive and supportive.

What does the future hold for Improv Effects? As Lam puts it, “Our main goal is world domination.”

Recently Crawlspace leased space in the Park Trades Center, providing the potential for Improv Effects to expand. Moving to the huge space allows the improv actors their own space to practice, and also offer classes. To find out more visit their website.

“We have a proven process that begins with simple communication concepts, which then build on themselves until we arrive at specific, real-world techniques for effective, positive communication,” said Lam.

To find out more about Improv Effects visit their website or Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

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