Friday, April 19, 2013

Offstage with Rachel Mason

Rachael Mason started improvising the second she could talk. She's been doing it for so long that it almost seems natural to her. She recently started as the The Second City Training Center's Head of Advanced Improvisation and loves teaching longer, more grounded improv. We talked with Rachael about Improv All-Stars, teaching and the training center.

When did you first start improvising?
Officially, In college in 1993. I was part of the Skidmore Ad-Liberal Artists and performed in The National College Comedy Festival. Both of which were founded by David Miner.

You're the official Head of Advanced Improvisation at the Second City Training Center. How'd you get that title?
I've worked tirelessly to hone my craft and voice. I ran the iO Training Center for 8 years writing curriculum and training teachers. At Second City I toured, wrote, and taught and helped to created the Advanced Improv curriculum under Jim Carlson. When he left I was thrilled to be interviewed for the position and even more excited to get the job.

Tell us about some of the classes/workshops you teach here.
I teach classes in Improv A-E, Writing 1-6, Musical Conservatory, and Advanced Improv. My most favorite classes to teach are Scenic Improv and Dramatic Improv, both of which deal with a more grounded type of scene work.

What's your favorite part about teaching?
I love watching someone get it. Comedy is such an abstract thing to try and convey so when someone gets a light bulb over their head it turns me on too. Gross.

How is Improv All-Stars at UP Comedy Club different from some other performances you've done?
The running order was masterfully crafted by Mick Napier. Its challenging to this old timer in the best way. There's fast and funny as well as long and grounded. There's music and games and scenes. I freakin' love it.

What's one piece of advice you could give any potential future student?
Don't beat yourself up over the last crappy scene you were in. It's already gone.

Who are some of your biggest comedic influences?
My parents, Lenny Bruce, Monty Python, George Carlin, Carol Burnett, Del Close, Mick Napier, Susan Messing.

When you're not performing or teaching, what are you doing?
I am playing with my young son... so I'm never not performing or teaching.

By Pamela Birchard

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