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Hello, my name is: Brogan

All the world’s a stage for this Roadways communication pro, who uses improv comedy to make work fun.

By Cory Phare

July 2, 2018

Erin Brogan Roadways outreach coordinator portrait  Those who recognize the name “Brogan” at Metropolitan State University of Denver know she’s quite the character.

That’s because the Roadways outreach coordinator taps into her improv comedy training to bring a fresh, supportive approach to the holistic student-success program. 

“Improv is pure positivity; you can incorporate it into your everyday life, from building relationships to collaborating on projects and not putting others down,” she said. “It’s the art of accepting the unknown gracefully.”

Brogan began taking classes from Denver-based Bovine Metropolis Theater, falling in love with the spontaneous art form and now teaching in the program from which she graduated in 2014.

A 2010 communication graduate of MSU Denver, she credited the theatre’s inclusive and passionate community fostered by owner Eric Farone and partner Denise Maes as a natural complement to the work of the University.

Channeling her inner Tina Fey, Brogan elaborated the basic framework of improv: “The first rule is to say yes. The second is to say ‘yes, and…’ – to accept and include. The third step is to make a statement and be part of a solution without asking questions. And the fourth step is realizing there are no mistakes, only opportunities.”

This process is apparent in collaboration on marketing materials, website work and other collateral regularly requiring a rapidly iterative approach with revision at the heart of everything. As an example, she and her four student staff workers arrived at finalized Convocation marketing materials – 12 versions later.

“We started from nothing and worked together to figure out the message we needed to convey,” she said. “You have to be positive and super-patient to arrive at the best possible result.”

This year’s upcoming celebration for students takes place Aug. 16; all faculty and staff are encouraged to participate and RSVP here.

Another great example of applied improv principles can be seen in “Administrators Bantering in Carts Drinking Dazbog,” or ABCD.

The series of video shorts features different members of MSU Denver staff riding around the campus answering lighthearted questions about themselves – with the occasional penchant for outlandish hats.

“The idea came from Jerry Seinfeld’s ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,’” Brogan said. “We were joking around in a meeting that it’d be a fun idea, and before you know it, Lunden (MacDonald, Roadways executive director) was 100 percent supportive. It was so positive to be in an environment to take a creative idea and make it happen.”

The reaction she’s received has been similarly positive and led to a filming of a second season to premiere early in the fall semester. And it’s another example of the rewards that come from risk-taking in uncertain circumstances.

“It’s all about putting yourself out there and trying something,” Brogan said. “If it fails, it fails – but then you know what to do the next time around.”

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