As the Technology Coordinator for Research, Teaching, and Learning Services at the AU Library, Christina Floriza focuses on making instruction more accessible. In addition to creating tutorials and guides for digital resources to support instruction, Christina offers research assistance to library patrons, co-chairs the Internal Library Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and serves on both the Green Team and the Social Media Taskforce.
In her work, Christina is always ready to innovate and find new venues for reaching her audience. This past summer, she collaborated on a series of instructional Instagram videos, condensing her message to fit a platform that is popular with student users. She credits her improv work with inspiring her to look for new approaches to digital learning objects.
"Improv looks unstructured, but isn't at all—there are tons of rules and a formula that must be applied, right down to the structure of a joke. Creating tutorials is similar. You find a formula that holds the interest of the user and develop a structure for explaining something succinctly."
Christina discovered improv comedy more than a year ago, when she signed up for a free workshop at the Washington Improv Theater also known as WIT (wink, wink). Although she has a background in the performing arts, from aria competitions to productions of the Vagina Monologues during her undergrad years, this was Christina's first venture into the world of improv. Fast forward to today and Christina is performing regularly with local troupes at festivals and events such as DC's Improvapalooza.
Her connection to this creative community has been rewarding: "Improv comedy in DC is a nurturing, supportive, and stress-free environment full of kind people. The basic tenets of improv are agreement and support—you agree with the premise and add something extra. You don't look for the conflict in a situation; you look for what is interesting, and you find it by supporting your partner."
Through her exploration of improv, Christina has gleaned insights that can be applied to the rest of her life. She has learned how to stay grounded, become more open-minded, and approach situations by observing things first. She also stresses the approachability of improv, insisting that anyone can do it, as long as they come into it with an open mind. For anyone interested in giving it a shot, Christina offers some advice: "Never try to be funny, just be real and authentic. If the scene doesn't feel funny at first, don't worry. You'll find the quirk and humor as you go."
To see local improv in action, she recommends the Monday night Improv Wars at Mead Theater Lab; Comedy Spot, a club that offers a range of improv shows with different audiences in mind; or dropping by WIT on Tuesday nights at 9pm for a pair of free performances by their house teams followed by a free workshop and jam session.
Book Recommendations from Christina:
The Second City Almanac of Improvisation by Anne Libera, PN2071 .I5 S43 2004
"Second city is a big improv hub in the US and is where both Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch got started. This book offers a fun, very digestible how-to breakdown of the Chicago style, written by alums."
Guru: My Days with Del Close by Jeff Griggs, PN2287 .C5465 G75 2005
"This book chronicles the author's experiences with Del Close, considered the father of long-form improv, as a mentor, person, and performer. It also shows the evolution of the idea of improv into something teachable."