by Ryan Austin
I know a lot of the seasoned pros who have been doing this for double digit years and have multiple awards under their belt (for good reason) will get lots of praise. And rightly so. But as talented and wonderful as they certainly are, none of them have the spirit that I’ve witnessed in Thedward, that, to me, embodies EXACTLY what the ultimate improvisor should embody.
If you’ve taken a class anywhere, or an elective or an intensive or a workshop at any point in your improv journey, then you’ve met Thedward. He genuinely LOVES to continue learning this craft. Most of us assume we’ve gleaned what we can from once or even twice through a class, but Thedward knows there is more to unearth. He’s been through the Hideout classes a number of times, as well as the classes at few of the other theaters a number of times. I’m being general here because I’ve honestly lost track of his impressive record. He’s everywhere there is improv simply because he loves it so much.
I sense a pride and arrogance in myself regularly that I’m always struggling to check. And I’m sure we all feel it to a degree. But it’s that pride of thinking you’ve reached a certain “level” or earned some kind of treatment from improvisors or theaters or castings. What I love about Thedward is the genuine disinterest in that pride and arrogance. You’ll never seem him rolling his eyes or secretly thinking he’s “too good” for a warm-up or format or show, not because he thinks he isn’t or feels unworthy, but because he has such respect and love for the craft that as long as it’s improv, he’s in.
That alone is enough to embody the ultimate improvisor state of zen. The ability to shed that pride and just be thrilled to play and learn is what I’ll always be struggling to attain. And he has it.
But on top of this Thedward is, of course, very talented. He’ll pull a crazy character out of the air and double down no matter what. He goes straight to grounded when necessary and rarely breaks eye contact with his partner. He’s constantly connected, calm, and positive.
Beyond this, he’s always been encouraging to me personally, making sure to let me know what he liked about my directing or playing when it strikes him. I would not have the confidence as a director that I have thus far without him. He has never complained about not getting cast when I passed him up in a Fancy Pants or Maestro, and has never begged me to cast him. He is, as I wish we all could be, happy just to have a chance to do this art form that we all can’t seem to get enough of. He is content with what is given, while always trying for more. Happily, humbly, and quite often, with those signature purple pants of his.
Let’s all (including myself) humble ourselves, enjoy the art, hunger to learn more and hopefully, one day, be a little more like Thedward Blevins.