Faces of Fourth is a featured series on the folks that are the heart and soul of Historic Fourth Avenue. From the merchants who bring commerce to life, to the buskers who fill the avenue with sound, there are many people to celebrate on Fourth Avenue.
Make em’ laugh.
Justin has been doing improv for close to ten years. For him, the philosophies behind improv form a positive and more courageous way of living. One of the main tenants of improv is “Yes and,” which means that the participants in the improv game agree on what is happening and add something to it. Justin explains, “It’s basically a positive call to action, I need to be in the moment, agree with whoever I am working with, and add something smart to make the scene move forward.”
A native Pennsylvanian, Justin went to grad school at the University of Arizona. But it wasn’t until he lived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina that he started his career with improv. Justin came back to Tucson with the intent of bringing his experience with long form improv to the Old Pueblo. And so, Tucson Improv Movement (TIM) was born.
The company has expanded to include four house improv teams, multiple classes, team building workshops, and weekly performances. They are also moving into a new space and will have an official opening the weekend of January 19.
We chatted with Justin to find out what makes Fourth Avenue a special place for him.
When did the Avenue first start playing a major role in your life?
When we opened Tucson Improv Movement on Fourth Avenue in September 2014. I had been to the Ave. a bunch of times before, but during the build-out of theater (which took about 2 months) I was spending most of my Saturdays and Sundays working. We would go to eat at all the different restaurants, and I got to know all the other merchants.
What’s one of your favorite things about the Avenue?
I love how eclectic it is. You can find and do almost everything here. I love to eat and some of the best restaurants in Tucson are on Fourth Avenue.
Where is one of your favorite places to frequent on Fourth?
I love D&D Pinball, they were our old neighbors, and I do not play pinball enough. I also spend a lot of time at Che’s Lounge. We usually go there for a pre-show drink, or after our classes when we do office hours at a walkable spot, and I enjoy sitting out on the back patio and having a meandering conversation.
Tell us one of your most memorable experiences on the Avenue.
The first year we did the Tucson Comedy Arts Festival, there was such a positive response and we had sold out crowds. At our finale show, I remember running up on our stage, and have the greatest rush of excitement from the crowd, they were so loud it almost knocked me over, that evening was electric!
If you could time travel, what year would you like to visit Fourth Avenue?