I was an improviser before I knew what improv was. I loved performing, and worked in theater, music, radio, and television. It was when I was a children’s TV show host, creating scenes and stories and characters on a daily basis, that I began to feel the power of impromptu scenes. Later I became more familiar with the philosophy and training that was happening in Chicago – but moved to China instead! I carried the teachings of Del Close and Viola Spolin here with me, and got involved with improv not long after I arrived in Shanghai.
I’m so happy to share the philosophy of improv with Shanghai and all of China. And it IS a life philosophy – practicing the tenets of ACCEPTANCE, TRUST, CHIVALRY, ACTIVE LISTENING, PRESENCE, TOP OF YOUR INTELLIGENCE and COMMITMENT in every day life help me to have a successful, happy and abundant life.
I love longform, most especially the LOLA, the form created by the Zmackers. I feel it combines the best of short form and long form and really showcases the skills of the Zmackers in both areas.
What I REALLY love is finding new facets of life which can be improved by an improvisational mindset. As a member of the world Applied Improv Network, I share the fascinating things we discover here in Shanghai with the world, and learn more that I can share here in China!
In my free time I read a lot – mostly about improv but all kinds of things, and I have a not-so-secret devotion to comic books. I also enjoy quiet time with my wife and my dog.
My favorite thing about improv is the community it fosters, more specifically here the Zmack Family – a huge loving group of people from all backgrounds and cultures united by one thing – a passion for an improvised life.
Curt’s secret personal mission is to make the word “y’all” a commonly used part of the Chinese language.Back to top
RICHard Bochniak aka Punk is a graduate of SDSU with a degree in Theater Arts and a San Diego born clown/physical comedian whose Shanghai acting resume includes Much Ado About Nothing, OZ, the Snow Queen. He works for an educational based company: Early Birds, developing and facilitating Creative Drama programs for local school campuses here in Shanghai. He spends his free time searching for those ‘banana peels’ to slip on in life.Back to top
I used to call myself robert girl. Because i don't have strong emotions. Normally when I talk to people, it will turn to one person's speech. So can you image the first time i came to Zmack improv workshop? It was fucking difficult! I felt like an idiot, and I thought I can never do it.
Curt encourage me to have a try, so i took improv 101 class, and thought i can never finish it. Finally after I finished improv101 and had the graduation show, I can't stop playing and studying improv, I studied improv 101,201 and 301, and i went to Chicago last year to study improv. I become more outgoing, confidence, friendly and I have more friends. When I start accept myself and love myself, I find out people love me too. And now I perform improv and stand-up in English and Chinese every month. So I believe don't limit yourself,and everyone is pure potential.
我希望把自己学习的经验和心得分享给更多的人，希望每个人都能发现自己内心的小宇宙。Back to top
Zmack was introduced to me by a friend. At first I attended a couple of weekly workshops with my son as a way to get out of the house. Eventually I heard that they were launching the 101 classes for beginners and I decided to attend as a gift to myself. I had no idea at that moment that it would be life-changing decision. Along with being exposed to the craft of improv (which is rich and interesting) I found a family in Zmack. Our diversity is our strength and a strength that works because we know and trust one another. My adventure has allowed me to share the stage with truly talented people and we’ve earned our way to perform for audiences all over the world. Improv has helped me in my work as a corporate trainer as well as the quality of life that I enjoy.Back to top
I got with ZMACK at a show I went to in 2013. The posting in TimeOut said 'comedy' and I needed some end-of-the-week relief. The show reminded me of stand-up, except instead of getting picked at, audience got to toss curveball suggestions to the performers. When ZMACK broke out into an improvised song, I was sold. It was like 'Glee' in real life. I would love it if people just randomly broke out into silly rhyming song as part of their daily lives. I signed up for improv 101 classes with ZMACK a few weeks later that summer and have been playing with them since.
Out of the two types of improv, short-form gaggy games and long-form elaborate scenes, I enjoy short-form more. Guessing games are my favourite kind. But I love watching how the longer scenes create plotlines and entire worlds out of thin air.Back to top
I first got into Zmack in the spring of 2014. I had recently attended Zmack’s 5th Anniversary show, and during the intermission members of Zmack started to mingle with the audience and ask questions. Julien approached my table, and after some back and forth, had asked me if I would like to sign up for their beginner course: Improv 101. As I often do when taken back, I said, “Yes!”
And that has led to a fruitful two-year journey with Zmack. I completed their 101, 201, and 301 courses with some of the most encouraging, enthusiastic, and talented friends. Through it all I have learned not only the importance of improv, living in the moment, and facing my internal fears head on, but I have become part of a family. A family that I look forward to seeing not once, not twice, but often multiple times a week. Whether that’s for rehearsal, professional shows, or just turning up to support other house teams, it’s guaranteed to make me leave with a smile.Back to top
When I decided to teach abroad I was looking at South Korea and China. Not only was I looking at the quality of life to decide where to go, but also I was checking out which had a better improv scene. I've been very interested in improv my entire life, more recently I finally got up the courage to try it myself. I sent out some emails to various groups and immediately heard back from Curt and Zmack. Before I even moved all the way across the world, I felt like I belonged. Zmack has helped me in so many ways find a home in Shanghai. I'm thankful for what it's been so far and thrilled with what it's becoming.Back to top
Curt introduced me to Zmack shortly after we met and clicked, this was barely a year ago. After watching my first Zmack show, I was amazed by what I saw happen on stage and was filled with curiosity; I wanted to know how it was done. It wasn’t until I was paralyzed with fear at my first improv workshop that I realized improve was a fear I wanted to overcome.
With barely any acting experience or training I started to improvise because I am learning to trust myself more through actively practicing it. I am learning to be in the moment rather than stuck in my head. I am learning how to be me, a team, a family. I am learning the basics to telepathy. Plus I get to laugh all the time.
I lead a discussion group called Queer Talks, a bi-monthly bilingual discussion-based event that explores issues relevant to the LGBTQIA community in Shanghai. My ultimate goal is to be able to challenge the staus quo through improv. Improv has a unique quality that is accessible to almost anyone, even cross-culturally. Utimately, I do improv for me, and that in itself is empowering.
Here with Zmack, we’ve created a platform, not just for ourselves to succeed, but also for many more individuals and teams to fulfil their potential. It’s hard to describe improv with words, you need to do it.Back to top
“The world needs saving, and your improvisational talents are our only hope!” he said gravely, apocalyptic destruction punctuating his words.
Or maybe I gradually fell into it. Who knows? Memories get jumbled up over time, especially when you’re cultivating the skill of living in the moment and letting go of all that which came before, paying no mind to that which is yet to come. I joined Zmack while on a spiritual journey to find peace for my unquiet soul. Ironically, that peace came in the form of an audience roaring loudly with laughter. Improv is great fun, a wonderful challenge, and a cool way to attract the admiration of your peers. But mostly, it’s a great way of finding like-minded individuals who understand its role in shaping a person’s character. If life is a battlefield, improv is both weapon and armor, protecting its user by giving him or her an unshakeable calm and a killer sense of humor.
When the end of the world comes, Zmack will be here with a bunker full of laughter to crawl into, to teach you how to “yes, and” your life and how to catch an invisible ball.Back to top
I met ZMACK through fellow senior performer Richard “Punk” Bochniak because I had worked with him in two other plays beforehand. When he suggested I joined their rehearsals, I jumped on the occasion, as I had been a huge fan of improv ever since I started my acting training back in the late 1990s.
Improv has profoundly changed my entire outlook on how to enjoy life, make new friends, and live in a meaningful way. The magic it provides when done well with a big team is second to none – from 2-man shows to bigger performances and festivals, the connections and surprises keep on rolling on and offstage in the most amazing ways.
Improv is for me the ultimate audience engagement experience, as whole new worlds are created with the public and the laughter is of a different level.
Finally, to teach improv is to unlock untapped creative potential in everyone who is ready to make the jump. So what are YOU waiting for?Back to top
I thought about acting in high school. I considered performing in college. I told myself I should really get on stage after i started working. And then one day I finally did it.
Improv scares me and inspires me and connects me to other people, and I am really glad i finally stopped thinking and started doing. Thank you, improv, for helping me face my fears, make people laugh and allow me to have a richer and more meaningful life.Back to top
I have France to thank for my improv involvement. The first exposure I had to Zmack was an ad (all in English mind you) promoting French improv. What fun! I'll go watch some French-themed improv!
...despite my ignorance, it was still indeed fun. I was in from that point on, first attending workshops, followed by 101, 201, 301 and mainstage.
I've come to love numerous facets of improv and its applicable life lessons, but a main one is simply its nature: CREATING something that never existed before and can literally only happen through working/exploring with others.
Long-form is totally my favorite... Finding the story and relationships and games is oh so satisfying.
Benefits certainly go beyond friendships and laughter... With credits to career as well. Improvising has not only given much-needed confidence while leading business calls, but also spurred me on to get creative how I reach the customer audience. Shoutout to #sap #runsimple here.Back to top
My New Year’s resolution was to step out of my comfort zone and try things that challenged me. After attending a comedy show in Shanghai, I thought to myself “I can do this”, but wanted to take baby steps before I jumped right in. I knew of Improv comedy from shows like “Who’s Line Is It?” and felt that this would be a good introduction to comedy for me. My thinking was that in standup you are alone on stage and if no one laughs maybe you are not funny. With Improv, if no one laughs at what I’m saying it’s okay because maybe they will laugh at my scene partner said, thus making me funny by association. I learned about Zmack when a friend introduced me to one of the creators Curt Mabry. I enrolled in Zmack classes, improved my craft, built up the comedic confidence to perform standup and fell in love with Improv along the way.
That’s how I began performing Improv comedy, but being an expat since the age of nine, my life is constantly being improvised. Thinking on my feet, being adaptable, observant and fearless are vital elements to Improv and what I have been using throughout my life. I strongly believe that it has been a natural fit.
Improv has become a creative outlet for me. I am truly grateful to have found a group of like-minded friends to share and generate ideas with. As a father, I draw from some of the Improv techniques and games that I have learned to help encourage my kids to express themselves and think outside the box. Having performed for a little less than two years, it has been a positive influence in my life. Improv is about venturing into the unknown and the journey has led me to explore my abilities and strengthen my public speaking and self-confidence in more ways than I could have expected.Back to top