8 Hard-Hitting Questions for Pitch Lab Improv Coaches, RJ Owen & Joel Lutz!

Pitch Lab's Favorite improv comedy coaches: Joel Lutz & RJ Owen

Pitch Lab's Favorite improv comedy coaches: Joel Lutz & RJ Owen

There's no getting around it. We live in an unscripted world. If you mean to make an impression, you have to be able to think on your feet, hurl yourself into the moment and improvise. And like a great improv troupe, successful businesses must rely on similar tools to succeed.

We caught up with Pitch Lab’s own RJ Owen and Joel Lutz to ask them 8 important questions about their origin story, Dad jokes, and why you should sign up for their upcoming improv comedy workshop at General Assembly on June 26th! 

 

How did the two of you meet?

RJ: Joel and I were introduced when a pal of ours started a little breakfast club. We had a lot of similar interests and enjoyed riffing on each other’s jokes in conversation. Later when Jay and I put together the initial concept for Pitch Lab, I knew Joel would bring a lot of expertise from his perspective as an improv coach. It’s been great to collaborate with him.

Joel: What RJ said, except I had to beg him to be included in Pitch Lab.

 

What’s your favorite Dad joke?

RJ: Why did the chicken cross the road?  (Why?)

To get to the ugly guy's house.

????

Knock knock (Who's there?)

It's the chicken!!

 

If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would you have a good chance at winning a gold medal for?

RJ: Lawn mowing. I’ve perfected flipping the mower around as I run across my yard, plus I train at high altitude!

Joel: Telling people why something won’t work. No problem goes unnoticed!

 

What is the next thing on your bucket list?

RJ: I’ve always wanted my bucket list to be achievable so it’s a literal list of buckets. I’ve recently built out my collection of Home Depot orange buckets. The 1997 HD orange is a must-have for any serious bucketeer. I’m hoping to pick up a classic 1930s tin pale at Bucketcon this summer.

Joel:  Paying off school loans... I'm right on track!

 

What is the best piece of comedy advice you’ve ever received?

RJ: “Stop trying to be funny and just listen to me,” (from Joel)

Joel:  You aren’t as good as you think you are.

 

If you were a hoarder, what would you hoard?

RJ: Bucket lists! (see what I did there? in the biz, that's what we call a "callback"

Joel: Better jokes for this interview?

 

How has improv helped you in your career?

RJ: I use improv skills every day. Improv’s focus on collaboration and building on each other’s ideas with principles like “Yes, And” are absolutely essential for getting the most out of anything we do collaboratively, and as a designer a lot of my creative ideas come this way.

Treating our team like an improv ensemble cast - where everyone wins or loses based on the success of the team and not any individual - also helps make our team a healthy place where everyone has a say and brings all of their creative energy to the table.

Lastly, we’re presenting to clients all the time. We use skills similar to improv comedians to connect with our “audience” and adjust our material on the fly to respond to their feedback or reactions.

Joel: Improv has helped reshape almost every part of my life. I have learned that how I react on stage to a suggestion or what another actor is offering, is very similar to how I respond in real life to challenges and obstacles.  

One of the best places I’ve found in life, is when I’m open to new opportunities and in a position to act so that I can capitalize on them in a meaningful way.  I believe improv can be a vehicle to incorporate these values/traits into one’s own life.

 

Why should I sign up for your improv workshop at General Assembly on Tuesday, June 26th? 

RJ: You’re going to learn how to explore new creative ideas and unlock innovation (as buzz-wordy as that sounds) and you’re going to do it through a crazy fun improv workshop. Even really good professional development events are rarely as enjoyable as this one will be - don’t miss it!

Joel: If you sign up RJ will guarantee you a new job, and a Tesla! It’s pretty amazing!

Register now for Pitch Lab: How To Use Improv Comedy As A Tool For Innovation! (sorry, Tesla not included)

NO CAPTION NECESSARY.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY.

AmeriCorps VISTAs Improv Comedy Workshop!

AmeriCorps VISTA Pitch Lab Improv Comedy
Cities of Service Resilience AmeriCorps VISTA members @ Pitch Lab

Cities of Service Resilience AmeriCorps VISTA members @ Pitch Lab

Cities of Service Resilience AmeriCorps VISTA members are called upon to strengthen climate-resilience planning and implementation in vulnerable communities.

These real-life superheroes provide services to U.S. cities by engaging community residents to improve resilience in low-income neighborhoods. 

In this role, they help equip low-income communities to better prepare for numerous risks and challenges, including those associated with climate change.

AmeriCorps VISTAs Improv Comedy Workshop Joel Lutz RJ Owen

Pitch Lab was thrilled to help The AmeriCorps VISTA program utilize improv comedy skills to problem-solve within the vulnerable communities the VISTAs serve.

And no one knows better than improv coaches, RJ Owen & Joel Lutz how powerful improv comedy can be as a tool for creative problem-solving. 

Cities of Service Resilience AmeriCorps VISTA members

Through improv exercises like mirroring, 2-line scenes and spelling bees the VISTAs were able to hone in their active listening, collaboration and authenticity. Skills paramount to improving their effectiveness while impact volunteering. 

Cities of Service Resilience AmeriCorps VISTA improv comedy pitch lab workshop

Most Valuable Takeaways for The AmeriCorps VISTAs:

"I enjoyed the improv session because I tend to be a perfectionist. Sometimes it doesn't work out according to plan and I'm learning to embrace silence as a time to process the information given to me, so that I can give a thoughtful response."

— Sam H.

"During the improv session I was able to get a better understanding of my co-VISTA and how we work together."

— Ricky J.

"An elevator pitch will only get you so far when reaching out to community members so having the improv session really stuck with me... and how I can react when residents throw me curve balls."

— Rachel L.

"The skills taught in improv comedy are incredibly invaluable for this kind of outreach and engagement work, as well as for life in general."

— Charles A.

AmeriCorps VISTAs Improv Comedy

We're grateful for the opportunity to work with The Cities of Service Resilience AmeriCorps VISTAs and are always excited to see improv comedy's "yes, and" approach make a positive impact! 

And a BIG THANK YOU to General Assembly Denver for making this workshop possible. 

If you'd like to learn more about how Pitch Lab can help your team leverage improv comedy for innovation, creativity and team building, contact us! 

Improv Comedy Workshop @ General Assembly!

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improv comedy pitch lab general assembly

How To Use Improv Comedy As A Tool For Creative Problem Solving @ General Assembly! 

There's no getting around it. We live in an unscripted world. If you mean to make an impression, you have to be able to think on your feet, hurl yourself into the moment and improvise. And like a great improv troupe, successful businesses must rely on similar tools to succeed.

What We Learned

Pitch Lab instructors Joel Lutz & RJ Owen led us through a gauntlet of improv comedy exercises. We laughed a lot, but the real lesson at the heart of this workshop is to be a better listener.

Whether it's in business or your personal life, there is power in letting go of your own personal agenda, being present in the moment and actively listening. This skill is paramount to successfully adapt to change, solve problems, or be a force for innovation. 

We also learned that great improvisers possess the top qualities Google looks for when hiring, including the ability to process ideas on the fly, willingness to relinquish power and ease with creating space for others to contribute. 

the team crushing 2-line scenes at general assembly!

the team crushing 2-line scenes at general assembly!

What Folks Said About This Improv Workshop

"I had no idea what to expect but absolutely loved the class and the exercises. I've always been very public-speaking phobic and calculated in how I communicate, so I learned some great lessons for relaxing and being in the moment that I'll apply to work and life!"

— Rachel Richardson, Merkle

 

"I've been to a few GA workshops and this was by far the most engaging and dynamic. Wonderful experience, and the time went by way too quickly!"

— Patricia Sandler, Tufts University

 

"Do more of these unique business-related (and especially sales related) courses! I'll recruit all my colleagues." 

— Kara Cedrone, FullContact

 

"This was one of the most helpful sessions I've been to."

— Jason Morris, Martines Palmeiro Construction

huge thanks to joel & RJ for making improv magic

huge thanks to joel & RJ for making improv magic