Starting in September 2018 our Student Blog will highlight various Bovinians! Featuring current students, former students, teachers, etc., all sharing their stories and perspective on what the Bovine and their improv experience means to them.
Interview with Mike Burke, 2018
Mike Burke,31, has called Denver home for about 3 years. By day, he manages a team of software engineers who work smartphone apps. By night, he’s a bovinian, recently graduating from Level 5 and participating in two different Bovine House Teams.
Bovine Blog: Why did you sign up for improv classes? What was level 1 like?
Mike: I started improv for a variety of reasons, mainly to sharpen my social skills and as an outlet to freely express myself. My level 1 teacher was Greg Counts. He has a ton of experience; he helped me learn the basics of improv and build a foundation of good habits. I was nervous about looking stupid, running out of things to say and saying something I found funny that nobody else laughed at. Practicing improv regularly has helped me get past these worries in an improv setting as well as real-life situations.
BB: What was auditioning for an improv show like?
Mike: It was a little intimidating, especially writing up an acting resume with less than 6 months of experience and only one performance under my belt. Improv is usually super supportive and non-judgemental, auditions are just about the only time your improv is actively judged. Being turned down after an audition is always a bummer, but keep trying and you'll find something that fits you.
BB: What's being on an improv house team like?
Mike: I am so grateful to be on two Bovine house teams, Carfish Starnival and Book Club. Being selected for Carfish Starnival while still in level 4 classes was a rocket booster to my improv skills because I was regularly practicing with improvisers who had years of experience. I learned so many improv skills from them and was even exposed to experienced improvisers making improv "mistakes", but still having compelling scenes that really work. Seeing that helped me internalize this: there is no such thing as perfect improv and you can recover from mistakes as long as you're aware of them in the moment.
BB: What's been your favorite part of improv?
Mike: The exhilaration of walking on stage with absolutely no idea what you're about to do or say. I also love the collaborative creativity that comes when everyone on the team is contributing equally to what is happening in the scenes - nobody could have made the same thing on their own, it needed the group effort.
BB: Has your experience changed/challenged/affected you outside of the Bovine?
Mike: Yes! I've never been more focused and present to the moment throughout my day. I have become a great listener. I regularly give live presentations to 50 or more people and I'm so much more fun and playful than I used to be!
BB: Why should someone else try improv?
Mike: The best improv skills one can have as a beginner are emotional intelligence, positivity, and creativity. If you have even a small piece of each of those skills, you're on the track to becoming a great improviser! You might surprise yourself once you get up there and hear what comes out of your brain in the moment, so if you're on the fence about signing up, just say yes!