Laughter is the Best Medicine by Priya Bird

The call light is flashing. It’s time to give medication to room 2B. I need to call the doctor to get an order for a chest x-ray. Time to admit a new patient. Oh by the way, your patient went into cardiac arrest again! This is a typical day for a Nurse.  TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy paint this picture of meeting Dr. McDreamy in the linen closet. But the truth is, it’s more like calling a code brown and running to the linen closet to get that bedpan for Mr. McSteamy! What does this have to do with Improv? Well let me tell you!

The magic of “Yes, And”!

I came to Held2gether in 2017 with no intention to “be funny”. I was a working professional who wanted to improve my communication skills. My goal was to take one Improv class and check it off my todo list. After all, as a working professional there was no time to be funny. But having wonderful Improv Instructors, like Darren Held and Richard Martinez, taught me it was ok to laugh. Like wise sages, Darren and Richard taught me the importance of “Yes, And.” And, yes, I realized I was already applying these principles to my personal and professional life. I guess one could say Held2gether helped me find my “funny bone.”

What most people, including Nurses, don’t realize is that we improvise everyday! Improvised Comedy teaches us to roll with the punches and most importantly, laugh. A Nurse’s day is always unpredictable. One minute you are talking to your patient; the next moment you are doing chest compressions on your patient to save his or her life. You quickly learn to adapt. You learn to “Yes, And” as situations unfold right before your eyes. YES, my patient went into cardiac arrest AND I am going to grab that defibrillator… STAT.

The power of Improv!

Fast forward four years and a global pandemic later, I am still learning so much at Held2gether! Recently, I was invited to participate in Held2gether’s online sketch comedy show, HeldApart.  Being a featured player in HeldApart really pushed me at a personal level.  Before I was a working professional taking Improv classes after work. After joining HeldApart I finally realized – I am also an Improviser. Learning to write sketches, create characters, and video edit, gave me the confidence to realize I can be creative! The best part of HeldApart was developing my character Aunty Ji. This “Indian Matchmaker Aunty” character really helped me get through 2020. As a South Asian, creating this character and building her story was liberating. Aunty Ji was inspired by every sassy South Asian Aunty I encountered in my life. She gave me the opportunity to tell stories from my upbringing and most importantly she allowed me to share insight about my culture.

In conclusion, to anyone who is reading this, Improv is a life changing experience. As a nurse, Improv gave me the confidence to become a better public speaker. On a personal level, Improv has helped me to be more comfortable within my skin.The saying that “laughter is the best medicine” is a true statement. I have seen a lot as a Nurse and as a child of immigrants but now I know that despite all of life’s challenges, one can always find “the funny”. All we have to do is “Yes, And” to life.