Improv community inspires SDSU alumni in the workplace and beyond

by Scarlet Keolanui, Contributor

Positive energy, self-confidence, self-expression, fun and real-world experience are the qualities shared by two San Diego State alumni who are part of the improvisation community of the National Comedy Theatre, located on India Street. The National Comedy Theatre provides an array of different shows throughout the week, with its main attraction, the Mainstage shows, on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m.

Alison Ramsay graduated from SDSU in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Today, she performs in several ensembles as a cast member at the National Comedy Theatre.

Ramsay began her improv career at SDSU by joining Iota Eta Pi, an improv team on campus. In 2012, Ramsay’s dreams came to fruition when NCT brought her on as part of the Mainstage team.

Ramsay said improv has been an integral part of her life because it has allowed her to express herself outside of a serious workplace setting, as well as perform and have fun. She’s also gained experience from improv that she’s been able to take into the workforce. It has helped her specifically with job interviews to feel more comfortable in the interview process.

“You could bomb onstage and feel like the biggest failure, and you move past it and you can (feel like you can) do anything,” she said. “You can answer a question really (badly) in an interview and it’s not the end of the world. (You) see how you handle the situation, which is universal.”

Mitchell Simon, who graduated from SDSU in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and linguistics, is also a key member of the NCT community. He serves as Mr. Voice at the theatre, where he is in charge of all front-of-house duties.

Simon said improv is much more than a hobby and results in helpful skills for the workplace, classroom and even personal relationships. Besides building relationships with his castmates, Simon said improv has given him a more open-minded perspective on life.

“(There is) something about that building’s energy that builds positive energy,” Simon said. “Because you are in a building with so much (positive) energy, you can feed off of it and move forward with it.”

Ramsay encouraged SDSU students interested in getting involved in improv to audition and come to shows. The National Comedy Theatre website also lists opportunities for classes and workshops.