My three cups of tea to find answers to all questions…

Megan Schiferl

Megan SchiferlJuice Editor

Throughout the day I am constantly meeting and talking with people, though to my dismay I am usually rushed by a pressing agenda. In my limited view of life experience, I have found that many times, the most beneficial conversations I have are not scheduled and do not derive from an agenda. These conversations are usually the product of coffee-fueled procrastination and have been some of the most moving conversations of my life. Many times I believe that when we go into conversations with a motive we potentially lose much of the wisdom we may have stumbled across if we were simply open to listen and learn.

This semester many students on campus have been required to read “Three Cups of Tea,” by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin as part of the campus-wide Common Read program. Mortenson will speak on campus, Nov. 3. As much as I hope people can learn from Mortenson in that one evening, I believe that there is another chance to learn from his book, although it may be indirect.

“Three Cups of Tea” revolves around the significance of drinking tea with Pakistanis. In the book, the first time you have a cup of tea with a Pakistani, you are considered a stranger. The second time, you are friends. By your third cup of tea you are family. Applying this concept and what little I know about meaningful conversations, I have challenged myself to write my own “Three Cups of Tea” with various influential, or should I say at least infamous people on campus.

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit with four members of a traveling improvisational comedy group, Mission IMPROVable, which was sponsored by the University Program Council Wednesday, Sept. 8.

These four hilarious individuals have entirely unique lifestyles which form their unique life views. The troupe includes Keith Habersberger, Adam Higgens, Pat Kiely and Drew Korb and are based out of Chicago. Mission IMPROVable travels all over the country performing improv shows for a variety of audiences.

Each group member has their own story of how they began the comedy circuit.

“I was supposed to be in a music class in middle school, but someone screwed up and placed me in a drama class instead. The drama teacher wasn’t prepared and so we did improv the first day.” Higgins said.

“I moved to Illinois from Tennessee after my junior year in high school and got involved with theatre and started doing improv with a few friends. I guess it just continued into college,” Habersberger said.

There are some days where I aspire to be a comedic influent and foster a similar group on the SDSU campus. But is this kind of comedic talent innate or learned?

“You can practice improv. You can practice the idea of being spontaneous and confident. That’s all it really is; being confident,” Higgins said.

“It does take a lot of practice. Improv comedy is just playing. It’s what five-year-olds do really well. They play pretend. When you add education to that ability to play pretend, you get more sophisticated comedy,” Habersberger said.

Kiely was a bit more blunt, “Everyone can do it. But some people are awful; It’s a mix of both.”

You have to be able to break the rules and that takes years of practice,” Korb said.

Even though the troupe likes to joke around (pun intended) and have a good time, they can get serious too.

MS: “What do you love most about the group?”

AH: “I love to go to schools and teach. I love to teach people who are passionate about what we do as a profession.”

DK: “I really love the geography and history of some of the places we get to go and the crazy stuff we get to do. Some of the days off are awesome.

One time in Louisville, Ky., we were able to check out this awesome modern art museum in the lobby of our hotel in the morning and then shoot illegal machine guns in the afternoon.”

Considering my own somewhat confusing road to deciding a major and a life direction, I was curious as to what the “point” of it all was. When asked about their individual ultimate comedic goals, the answers were varied and intriguing as the guys giving them.

“I guess at one my point my goal in life was to be doing improv and traveling the country. Now my goal is to keep doing this and be able to do improve it and do it in different ways with more people,” Higgins said.

Habersberger managed to be both more and less vague at the same time.

“I have like eight tree branch goals and I could honestly see myself doing any or all of them. I could write music for cartoons or I could just be running an improv theatre, or I could be doing Saturday Night Live, or I could be an astronaut.”

Keily arguably had the noblest goal of the group, “I want to help babies. Babies are ignored constantly and I want to use comedy to give babies that attention.”

Life on the road can be hard on the guys. The SDSU show was the tail end of a 25-day straight tour schedule. When this is tour is finished, they will get the chance to be home for a day and a half, then leave for another two weeks. Although they will follow a similar pattern until November, they seem to maintain good spirits.

“This is an awesome life because it seems like a fake life. You don’t go to work and you don’t have a routine and each day is different and ends in a show that is different. But I never watch TV so I never know what is going on. When I’m on the Internet I’d definitely rather be Facebooking. You get to meet people but you can’t hold a relationship,” Habersberger said. Heads nodded in agreement at this statement.

When I spoke with the group, none of them had a significant other, proving just how difficult it was to maintain relationships with just such a lifestyle.

“Its especially impossible if whoever you are dating doesn’t live in Chicago,” Habersberger said. “If they are some where else and you have 48 hours until you start traveling again, its awfully hard to get a plane trip in.”

All in all, I don’t really think there is anything the troupe would rather be doing.

MS: “So it sounds like you guys are living the dream. Are you living the dream?”

DK: “Yeah! Are we rich? Hell no. But it’s still a great time and it’s awesome that I can say I had a point in life where I just got to travel the country and make people laugh.”

KH: “Especially right now…there aren’t any stable jobs anyway. If we weren’t doing this, what would be doing?”

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