Improved by Improv: An Interview with Nick Lux

Imagine having to create an entire story off the top of your head with no script and only a single suggestion to use as inspiration. Sounds absolutely terrifying, right? Well, for sophomore Nick Lux, this intimidating endeavor is nothing more than an exciting pastime he describes as “unscripted drama, usually in the form of comedy.” For the past three years, Nick has been a part of a team that competes in a nationwide contest for improv.

Nick competes through a competition called the Improvathon, which is run by one of the largest youth theater companies in the nation, CYT. Every year, over 20 teams of five to six people from all across the nation compete in order to claim the spot of “best improvers”.  With such a large amount of competitors and a difficult craft, nerves are certainly high. “I was very nervous because I was the youngest on the team and I had very little experience besides the classes and the practices for this competition,” Nick said. “I had no idea what to expect.” Despite this, Nick still enjoys the thrill of playing improv games with his teammates, who have become family, according to Nick.

But what kind of work goes into making the team successful? One of the key components is being able to trust each one of the people who are on stage with you, and to do that you need practice. And lots of it. As soon as the team is picked in the winter, they begin practicing for the competition that takes place in June. “Practices are about four hours long and are usually only once a week until we get closer to competition. And then they can become everyday for one to two weeks,” as Nick describes. With so much time and effort being put into making sure that the team is a well-oiled comedic machine, it doesn’t come as a shock that the group soon becomes a tight knit group of friends. When asked about his teammates both past and present, Nick said, “They are family,” showing that improv is so much more than attempting to make people laugh. It truly is a unique bonding experience that only a handful of people get to experience in their lives.

Nick Lux sits by a boulder in New York, hopeful for the future.
Nick Lux sits by a boulder in New York, hopeful for the future.

While improv isn’t all fun and games, it is also fun and games. When asked about his favorite game to play in competition, Nick replied, “My favorite improv game to play is a game called Chit Chat…where there is a person talking about a ‘new musical’ that’s coming out and you have to perform three preview songs that are completely improv’d.” Games such Chit Chat are certainly good for getting a laugh or two out, but there are also many offstage benefits of improv as well.

Lux said that being involved in the craft has “made [him] more comfortable working with a team” as well as helped him be “able to comfortably and effectively public[ly] speak.” These are essential lessons that Lux plans to carry out through everything that he does. Not only does he want to continue working on these skills, he also hopes to continue his study on improv, hopefully making a career out of it, or in Nick’s words, “SNL. [My improv] will live on.”