How Improv and Volunteering at Dad’s Keeps Me Moving Forward

By Frances Chang


Life is full of ups, downs, and transitions; but for me, what has remained consistent is improv. This may seem like an oxymoron since improv is literally made up on the spot and changes from moment to moment. But no matter what is going on in my life, I can always count on improv.

It wasn’t until later along my path of puppets, pro wrestling, and the circus (I have a weird life, don’t judge) that I would befriend many of the improvisers of Dad’s Garage, but was 2012 by the time I took my first DG improv class. My impetus for taking the plunge was a break up – a transition. Most people change their hair cut or color (I already did that), but I wanted to change my life. I wanted to change myself. I needed to make a difference. I needed confidence. I needed improv.


The first class is like crack, it’s designed to get you addicted. We played games, we encouraged each other, we supported each other, we would be great friends for life. As we continued our journey, we learned about storytelling, characters, and how to put on a show. Each level allowed us to hone our abilities on how to listen, how to be in the moment, and how to move the story along – much like how we’re supposed to live life. After progressing through the four levels of improv class, I did the scariest thing in my life; the Dad’s Garage Level Four Grad Show. It was nerve wracking and exhilarating all at once. I did it with my new friends, and don’t regret a single moment. I was hooked. I immediately began volunteering at Dad’s Garage (Volunteer of the month November 2015, right here!).


I even explored other improv classes at other theaters which led to sketch writing, comedy performing, and video producing. These accomplishments then led to invitations to perform in other prestigious Atlanta shows. It was always a frightening venture, but I was armed with the tools the talented DG improviser instructors bestowed upon me. My improv skills even came to good use when I belatedly realized I had to provide a presentation for an interview. I brought much laughter and amusement to a room full of public health administrators with my winged presentation on the zombie apocalypse. (Only one guy was not so amused – also, I didn’t get that job.)

There will always be improv. Improv is here to comfort us. Improv cures our ails with laughter. Improv gives us respite from reality. It’s been almost three years of volunteering and I still can’t get enough DG. I am currently unemployed, we’ve come out on the wrong side of the most contentious presidential election, and the future is uncertain, but there is always Dad’s Garage. When life is in turmoil, I know I can always come to Dad’s Garage. Dad’s Garage is family. Dad’s Garage is home.

(Also, someone please hire me, I’m a marketing, social media, event planning guru!)




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