Guestpost #1: Jill Bernard – Ten things I’ve learned from opening a non-profit improv theater

Jill Bernard is a teacher, improviser, theater founder, and one-woman dynamo based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her one-woman improv musical Drum Machine is the best thing ever. Here is the theater (or theatre) that she recently founded:

  1. People use a lot more toilet paper and paper towels than anyone could ever predict.
  2. The Minnesota Department of Revenue website is actually super user-friendly, and they have free seminars to help you pay your sales tax correctly.
  3. There is this thing called ‘bookkeeping’ where you keep track of how much money you have and how much you spent and when you spent it and what you spent it on. Then you have reports and things. I was going to do the bookkeeping myself, but I went to consult a professional bookkeeper – Doug Lindberg of – shout out! Within five minutes my eyes glassed over and I heard my voice say, “You’re hired, Doug.”
  4. It’s amazing what falls into your lap when you let people know your lap needs things to fall into it. People have donated everything from curtains to iPads to the aforementioned toilet paper and paper towels.
  5. Applying for a liquor license is like living in a Vaclav Havel play. I keep making that analogy, but I don’t think enough people have read plays by this former president of the Czech Republic for it to resonate. Wole Soyinka the Nobel prize-winning Nigerian playwright and former political prisoner, is that more relatable?
  6. The biggest donations come from the poorest people. Well, the poorest people and software/firmware engineers.
  7. Having a storefront next to a dog groomer means you get to see a lot of clean dogs go past. Dirty ones too, I suppose, but mostly I notice the clean ones, what with the bows and the attitudes.
  8. Having a storefront next to a nursing home means you get to see a lot of people in wheelchairs and walkers go past. One day I thought I saw someone making a break for it, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest style, but then later I saw them going back the other direction. I was very disappointed.
  9. There are a million different business association meetings in the Uptown area. I now evaluate them on the quality of their snacks.
  10. There is no sign in the world that will help people understand where to park.

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