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Breaking into Improv

January 20, 2022

FST Improv is now in its 19th year and has more than 20 members! To help you get to know the improvisers better, we’re going to be sitting down with cast members and picking their brains about improv, taking risks, and their lives offstage. Next up on the chopping block is former FST Acting Apprentice Patrick Jackson.

FST Improv performs every Saturday and select Fridays in FST’s Bowne’s Lab Theatre. To see what shows are lined up for this weekend, click here.

What do you love most about improv?

I’ve always been inspired by the community that is developed in the world of theatre, but there is a unique sub-community within improv that is for everyone. Most improvisers don’t have theatre backgrounds, so they come in with a blank slate and are ready to be fully available on stage.

Does improv connect with your everyday life? If so, how?

I constantly remind my students, “Improv is real life.” I don’t wake up and do the same exact blocking, stage directions, and dialogue from a scripted version of my life. We’re always in the moment, and we’re always responding honestly to what happens around us. My personal goal is to always come from a place of “Yes, and” when I’m engaging with people on a day-to-day basis.

You were one of the first FST Acting Apprentices to be cast in FST Improv. What was that experience like?

I recall being quite nervous, but the friendly nature and sense of family that I got from other improvisers like Christine Alexander and Adam Ratner was something that I took with me. I try to continue to foster that feeling as a member of FST Improv and with the teams I perform with and direct in St. Pete.

You are a teaching artist, actor, and spoken word poet. How does improv help you in these other areas?

My improv practice has allowed me to explore a new level of vulnerability onstage and in my own artistic projects. As a teaching artist, you can never have too many games and exercises to throw at your students and improv has provided quite a plethora. 

Who are some of your improv/comedy heroes?

Some of my favorite comedy icons are Eddie Murphy, Damon Wayans, Moms Mabley, and Flip Wilson. I draw a lot of my character-based acting and comedy from their styles. Over the past several years, I’ve been a big supporter and fan of new faces to the larger comedy scene, like Issa Rae, Natasha Rothwell, and Amanda Seales.

You been doing improv for eight years now. What has been the most surprising moment you’ve had onstage?

One of the most surprising moments was when Ali Reed (a former member of FST Improv) made the choice that, in the scene, I was President Barack Obama. Now, at the time I had never really done impersonations. I had a moment of panic, took a breath, and dropped into an impersonation that, to this day, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t completely recreate. Apparently it was spot on – from the mannerisms to the voice. Panic and adrenaline can do wonders on an improv stage.

Watch Patrick and the rest of FST Improv make scenes, songs, and characters up on the spot! FST Improv performs every Saturday and select Fridays in FST’s Bowne’s Lab. For tickets, click here.

JANUARY 22, 2020