STL SketchPAD on Im Making This All Up

This week, Ben of Im Making This All Up featured STL SketchPAD creator, Jason Flamm on his blog. Here is the article (and here is the link to the original):

 

Jason Flamm – You Can’t Make This Up


 

Jason Flamm is an unstoppable creative force. Before most readers of this blog were even taking classes, he had already graduated from The Improv Shop, formed one of the first independent Lab teams and created a sketch comedy show. In all of his undertakings, Flamm has taken everyone along for the ride and uses improv in the best possible way – to develop new skills, grow, and become the best version of himself.

Thankfully, it sounds like he’s coming back to improv soon.

Meet Jason Flamm:

Jason Flamm leading an STL Sketchpad meeting

Why did you get into improv? How long have you been doing it?

I found improv at the absolute best time I could have in life. Everything in my life had lost it’s meaning. I just happened to come across an ad on the internets for a free class at the Improv Trick taught by Bill Chott.

I went and fell in love. Back then there wasn’t as much improv as there is now. I digested anything and everything improv.I went to class and shows 3 to 4 times a week. Performed a lot. I was in the third ever graduating class from The Improv Shop. I started one of the first ever independent teams to perform at the Lab. I took every workshop. I made amazing friends and gained the support of an entire community of the most creative, loving people I’ve ever met.

What drew you to sketch and away from improv?

I believe sketch comedy is an extension of improv. If you want to be a performer, write screenplays, make movies, etc… you need to do more than just improvise. It’s lazy to think that all you need is improvisational skills. Of course, if you just want it to begin and end with improv, that’s a fine and worthy undertaking.

The first sketch team I started was The Last Sketch Comedy Show on Earth in 2012. None of us knew what we were doing. It was exciting! We just made the the stuff we wanted to make. We ran an original show every month for a year. Some of those people went on to do STL Up Late a few months after we had our last show on December 21st, 2012. I’ve always been extremely proud of the stuff we did back then. I hope everyone involved feels the same.

I had to take a step back in improv because I went back to school and had to rededicate myself to finding a real job. I was tired of being stuck in the food industry. I felt like I was better than that, but I had no way of showing it to anyone. My resume and skills sucked. I also had years of college with no degree.

The plan worked. I now have a really great job that I enjoy every day. I have my associate’s degree and I’m just a few semesters away from my bachelor’s. I’m the only person in my entire family’s history to get a college degree. I’m the healthiest and happiest I’ve ever been. Improv has been the jump off for all of this. I’ll never turn away from improv. It’s given me way more in life then I can ever give back to it.

You’ll see me back at improv soon. This semester ends in two weeks.

Jason Flamm at The Improv Trick

Why did you start the SketchPad series? Where do you see it going?

SketchPAD is an opportunity that has never existed in this community. Whether you’ve been doing scripted comedy for years or it’s your first attempt to make people laugh with something you’ve written – everyone is welcome to participate. It’s a pure outlet that exists to make this comedy scene better and better. People need experience and exposure and SketchPAD can provide that without feeling like you have to commit long term. But, if you do want to commit long term, you can keep coming back.

I hope that the people who come through SketchPAD have a) the time of their life and b) feel like they have a reason to keep writing comedy.

As long as we have people who keep showing up, we’ll keep going. I hope shows are created and inspired by the stuff we do at our shows and in a sense, live forever through other people’s work.

How have you seen the STL Comedy community change since your days with Perfectly Wrong?

So much! Back when I began, the Improv Shop had 2 shows a month. The Trick was one show a week. If you wanted stand-up you had to go to the Funny Bone. Now, you can get an improv show almost every night.

There is an open-mic in a bar/restaurant/art space every day of the week. STL Up Late has multiple seasons under its belt. Video sketches are popping up weekly on social media. Improv teams are traveling to Chicago or Detroit or New York to participate in festivals. We have the Compass Improv Festival in town. Bare Knuckle Comedy is doing some fantastic stuff through live shows, video premier shows, podcasts, and more. One of the funniest shows I’ve been to recently was Jeremy Hellwig and Kenny Kinds’ show Sorry, Please Continue. My own half brother just did a stint as a host for the Funny Bone. Bobby Jaycox and Kenny have been able to open for Dave Chapelle, TJ Miller, and a bunch of other really great comedians coming through St. Louis.

We continue to grow because of heart. We heart comedy. We heart this city. You can go to another city and do it if you want. But, why not do it right here, right now?

We have tremendous talent in this city and more and more people are finding that out.

Jason Flamm with the original Improv Shop crew

Can you share some words of wisdom with those just starting out?

Look at what’s happening around you. Pick the things you like the most. Decide what you want to do, but don’t be too scared to try something new. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a mega-mix of comedy nerds come through SketchPAD. From improvisers, stand-ups, sketch team members, all the way to people who have no interest in performing and just want to write. There is an outlet for you, find it or just create it yourself.

This is your community. Make the things you want to exist in it.

What is the best improv advice or note you have ever received?

Look at your scene partner when you start the scene. Feel the tension that already exists. Start a sentence with “You…” Sit in silence, it’s powerful.

Jason Flamm with improvshop improvisers

What is the best lesson you’ve learned from improv that translates to your real life?

Never be scared to make mistakes. Those that don’t make mistakes will never grow.

Do you have anything going on that you’d like to plug?

SketchPAD 6: Skiit Skiit Skiit is Tuesday, May 12th at 8pm. Tickets are just $5 at the door and it’s BYOB. Come see what all the fuss is about. Also, say “Hi” to me after the show. Here is the link to the FB event.

(Optional…well, more optional than the others). Is there a video, podcast episode, blog post etc about improv that you find particularly inspirational or inspiring?

Nothing inspired me more than watching “Trust Us, This is All Made Up.” The movie featuring TJ and Dave. I watched it 7 times over a two month span. It’ll teach you everything you need to know about improv.


Thanks to Ben and all the kind words he had to say about Jason and STL SketchPAD. Our next show is Tuesday, May 12th at 8PM at the Satori (3003 Locust). Facebook event page.

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