By Kristen Manieri

Embracing the Nonsense of Improv

If you’ve ever experienced improvisational sketch comedy, you’ve likely seen people unfurl and connect with each other in ways that just aren’t common, or maybe even possible, in their day to day life. There’s something so raw and real about learning to create a moment, in front of an audience, just with what comes into your head and out of your mouth. The result is a connection between the actors and to the audience that’s truly extraordinary. 

Researchers are showing that the more intentional we become at creating meaningful connections, the more we care for our social health, the better we feel, perform and fight off illness. In short, we are happier and healthy when we connect positively with others. 

This is something this week’s guest has seen proven again and again.

Emily Fontano is the Artistic Director of SAK Comedy Lab in Orlando, FL, where you can find live shows nearly every night inside SAK’s 250-seat theater, but also oodles of classes for those interested in learning how to do improvisation. 

Emily performs in SAK shows, teaches classes at SAK U, competes in festivals across the country, and hosts her own podcast (Amanda and Emily: We Have a Podcast). She’s truly immersed herself in the world of improve for well over a decade. 

Amanda Wirtz (left) and Emily Fontano (rght)
Amanda Wirtz (left) and Emily Fontano (rght)

I wanted to learn more about what’s possible when people let themselves get really silly, loose and crazy. Here’s what I discovered:


1. People are desperate to feel more connected. If you’re feeling lonely or isolated, consider looking around to see if there is an improv class offered near you. 

2. Laughter is disarming to the brain. When something is funny, especially when it is unexpected, we start to feel more calm and open. 

3. We could all be served by becoming a little lighter and looser in our lives. Who doesn’t need to feel a little more comfortable in their own skin? 

4. Improv is such a great place to learn to persist when things don’t go as planned. We don’t need to feel like we’ve failed or we need to give up. Most of life is not ‘make or break’.

5. Consider being a student again and going back to the classroom. It doesn’t have to be an improv class; it could be anything. The point is that it’s so good for our brains and for our social health to take classes with other people, learn new things and get out of our comfort zone.

6. We all need a safe space where we can feel seen and understand. Find your tribe, find your community, and cultivate your place there over time. 

7. We’re all foolish and silly sometimes. Let’s embrace this rather than trying to look so together all the time. We’re all served when we let our guards down, take off our masks and display our humanness with all of its quirks and flaws. Be playful. Embrace the nonsense.  

8. It’s so comforting to be around people who are light and loose. We’re all taking ourselves way to seriously. Be the person who is bringing more lightness into your world because it gives people around you the space to do the same. 

9. Life is funny. It’s ridiculous. The more we can embrace this, the more we can stop holding onto everything so tightly, and the more we can let go. Yes, sad things happen, stressful things happen. But in between those moments are lots and lots of times to just let go. 


I’m so grateful for this conversation. A big, huge thanks to Emily Fontano for being my guest. You can learn more about SAK classes and courses at www.sakcomedylab.com (you may see me there). Also, check out Emily’s podcast, Amanda and Emily, wherever you download podcasts.  

Until next time, 

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