By now, you’ve all heard that the Improv Community has lost a giant. And Jason Chin was that in more ways than one. Giant heart; Giant mind; Giant soul. He was one of the smartest improvisers anyone could ever have the pleasure of experiencing. His talent was only outweighed by his knowledge, and that was only outweighed by his generosity with that knowledge. Even outside of the classroom, Jason relished every opportunity to chat with his students & peers, talking about subjects ranging from comics to cigars. At the risk of brevity, he was a great man.
I remember seeing an Armando Diaz show last year where Jason was Armando. He spoke of his parents, his love of shrimp, and his interest in comics. During the second act, someone began a “Godzilla in China” scene. Jason stood up from the side and said, “Armando pause. Godzilla is Japanese, not Chinese”, and sat back down. A novice improviser, even one as intelligent as Jason Robert Chin, would have probably let that slide. But not he. I just think thought that was kind of funny. Of course, the actors on stage didn’t slow down at all, and Jason knew that it wouldn’t; that’s why he did it.
He was Improv’s Professor; the Master of Reality, or at least the fake reality we create for ourselves on stage. The iO’s lights will shine a little less bright in his absence.
I’m going to close this with a copy of one of Jason Chin’s blog posts about the Harold.
“Let the suggestion be your container. The Harold is water.
We know that water is H2O, just as we know that a Harold is composed of group games, scenes and second chapters (or beats) of scenes with a thematic through-line, but each time we “pour” it, it takes a new shape and form.
The water will always be water, but it takes the shape and form of the container. Every container is different.
Every Harold is different; they each take the shape of the suggestion.
“Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless- like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup; you put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; you put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” – Bruce Lee.”
Here’s to you, Professor.