I was 17 the first time I saw improv.  Growing up a huge fan of Saturday Night Live in the late 80s and early 90s, I was exposed to comedy.  But it wasn’t until I went to the Second City in Chicago during the late 90s that I saw comedy live.  At the end of the show, the cast did a fully improvised set and I was mesmerized.  As I grew up, I ran into a handful of people that did improv, and hearing their experiences, I always thought, “That sounds awesome, I should try that!”.  Being a serial procrastinator, it wasn’t until I was 26 that I finally took the plunge and signed up for Level 1 at Second City in Chicago.  There is nothing like the 1st day of improv.  It’s exciting and electrifying like the 1st day of school, mixed in with a twinge of nervousness – but without the mean nuns as your teacher.  (Oh, you didn’t go to Catholic elementary school in Chicago during the mid-80s?  Just me?  Alrighty then.)  I immediately found that the individuals I met in improv are my kind of people.  I’ve found them to be smart, funny, kind, and open.  Some are reserved, some are quirky, many are silly, but most importantly, they create an environment where you feel safe to try anything.  It’s just such a supportive community.  After completing Level 5 (about a year after starting), we had an amazing graduation show and my teacher recommended that I audition for the Conservatory Program at Second City – an advanced, intensive improv program that lasts the better part of a year.

I auditioned.  I was not selected.  I was heartbroken.

Another 9 months went by.

I decided to audition again.  I had heard of many people that didn’t get accepted the 1st time:  Bill Murray, John Belushi, Chris Farley, Will Ferrell, Steve Carrell, Steven Colbert, Colin Jost.  Ok, so that didn’t happen to ANY of these talented people, but sometimes you just need motivation!
 
Against the panel’s better judgment, I was selected for the program.  I still have the acceptance letter.
 
Over the next few years I participated in nearly 100 shows in some capacity, and was accepted to the writing program at Second City.  It was there that I met my best friend, Jeff. Together we wrote and performed in some of the most enjoyable revues that I’ve been a part of.  Even with scripted comedy, the foundation was always improv.  The 2 of us would be having a conversation that led to us “yes, and-ing” and cracking each other up, and one of us would eventually jot down some thoughts.  Days or weeks later it would eventually flush out into a full-fledged scene – but improv was always responsible for the heart (premise) of the scene.
 
In 2012, I moved to San Diego for work and didn’t know any people in California.  I needed to find my people – my tribe.  So, I began taking classes at NCT.   As I moved through the levels, I met some great friends – and on June 19, 2014, during the inaugural NCT house team show, I met the most important person in my life.  I met my wife.  She was funny, beautiful, smart, and had a personality that BEAMED.  We competed against each other on house teams, we played together on the Sunday company, and have been able to play together on the NCT main stage.  Improv is and will always be a huge part of our lives.  We have 2 boys that see us playing variations of improv games nearly daily.  They watch how we collaborate and communicate.  Improv’s “yes, and….” philosophy makes me a better communicator, a more active listener, and even makes me better at my job.  It permeates far more than just what you see on stage.
 
Improv has been at the core of some of the most amazing things that have happened in my life and is the foundation of my deepest relationships.  I owe so much to it.  I wished I tried improv sooner in my life, but it also shows you that it is never too late to try it.  Want to have fun and open up your life to new experiences?  It’s as simple as taking the 1st step:  “yes, and……”
 
-Patrick Jeter, Mainstage Cast Member