How Tim Kazurinsky Changed My Life

September 16, 2009

Roughly 20 years ago, I was early into my college career and working a summer job at a record store.  The store I worked at was large and I was at the back counter making sure all of the customers were being helped.  Suddenly, I saw a familiar face walking toward me.  It was someone I grew up watching on television and the movies.

TimKazurinsky new headshot

It turns out that this familiar face was Chicago’s own Tim Kazurinsky, who was a cast member on Saturday Night Live during the Eddie Murphy years and had a supporting character in the Police Academy movies.  He came to the back of the store to place some music on special order.  Back in those days there was no eBay or Amazon.com.

I complimented Kazurinsky on his career and I found him to be appreciative and down to earth.  Moments later, he signed an autograph for me (I still have this at home).  We also discussed the entertainment world.  In our brief conversation, I mentioned that I was thinking about taking an acting class. His response was a piece of advice that didn’t mean much to me at the time, but it did later. He said, “you should take an improv class.”

I wasn’t familiar with improv, though I did grow up watching a lot of sitcoms and sketch comedy.  I made a mental note of his suggestion and I said “thanks” and he went on his way.

It wasn’t until four years later after I had graduated college and was working at my first job that I took Kazurinsky’s advice and signed up for improv classes at Players Workshop of the Second City.  As someone who always felt uncomfortable talking in front of a group of people, this felt as dangerous as jumping out of an airplane to me.

I began to really enjoy my first few classes.  There were word games and other exercises to get out of our heads and thinking creatively.  Most importantly, our teacher established an atmosphere of support among students.  More than feeling scared, I felt enlightened by these exercises.  And I laughed a lot.

I liked it enough to stick around and take a year’s worth of classes.  There were many magical moments and plenty of moments that I felt like I made a fool of myself, but I always gave myself credit for trying.  I left every class with a boost of energy.

After a year of classes, we graduated in front of our friends and family at Second City. It was an incredible rush to perform on the same stage that John Belushi, Bill Murray and Steve Carrell performed.  Even more of a rush was getting a couple laughs on that stage in front of a packed house.

Taking classes and having our graduation at Second City was a life-transforming experience for me.  From that point forward, every time I felt challenged in some way or needed some confidence, I thought about all that I had accomplished from improv.  It immediately gave me a lift.

Truth be told, I can’t give Tim Kazurinsky full credit for everything…I had been thinking about taking acting classes, after all.  But his advice prompted me into action and I am deeply changed because of it.

How about you…have you received any great advice in your life?  What was it?

1 lori September 16, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Hi Tim!
Wow, lookie what you did! This new site is great. Congratulations and best with you new look!

Good for you for taking the improv class. I remember Tim Kazurinsky, too. Isn’t is great to have these moments, and to later have the satisfaction to have acted on the advice (no pun intended).

Great advice? Hmmm…well, there has been lots of great advice in my life. I think the best little tid bit came from my dad, when I asked him about a career move I was considering. He simply said, “Just make sure you’re having fun, honey. If it sounds fun, do it!”

I enjoyed your post today, Tim. Thank you for sharing this story! 🙂

2 Larry B. September 16, 2009 at 3:35 pm

I actually seen Tim K. perform at second city. Much of the show was devoted to improv.

Best advice I received (thanks Dad) was “If you can’t pay for it, don’t buy it”. It seems nowadays this lesson is lost by some.

3 Tim September 16, 2009 at 8:05 pm

Lori:

Thanks for stopping by and for the good wishes, I appreciate it…sounds like your dad gave you some very profound advice that has helped you make some important decisions. I remember similar advice that my dad gave me. Have a great day!

4 Tim September 16, 2009 at 8:09 pm

Larry:

Thanks for sharing that…I know that seems like very simple and basic advice, but it is so important these days. I think some of his advice rubbed off on me, as well, because I have a similar philosophy.

5 Nadia - Happy Lotus September 18, 2009 at 3:02 pm

Hi Tim,

Before I get into what I wanted to say in reaction to your post (which was awesome, btw), I have to first apologize for taking so long to finally make it to your blog. I have been meaning to but my day job can be insane. So now that I am off from work, I made my way here.

Your story is so wonderful because it kind of proves that we all get guidance in some way or another, the problem is whether we follow it or not. I am happy that you followed it because it brought you such joy. Yay for you! 🙂

As for me, one the greatest pieces of advice someone gave me, was after my mom passed away. Someone suggested that I write a blog on politics. I had no desire to write about politics but the idea of a blog felt right. It took two years until I was actually ready to go ahead and create a blog. I am so glad that I did. It has been a total gift.

Hope all is well! 🙂

6 Tim September 18, 2009 at 6:47 pm

Hi Nadia:

Thanks for stopping by…I can understand and remember how challenging blogging can be while you have a job. I am really amazed at how much (awesome) content you produce while you hold down your gig. I am also glad that you followed the advice to start a blog (and also that you decided not to explore politics). You do have a gift for writing and it seems that you write about many things that I can strongly identify with. Have a great weekend!

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