Hello there! I’m Rollin and I’m obsessed with improv comedy. Therefore, I’ve chosen to deliver my staff bio through Tina Fey’s four foundational rules of improv as presented in her book, Bossypants.
When we talk about agreement in improv we’re talking about getting on the same page–agreeing to a shared reality that will act as a foundation to play on. Generally this consists of a Who, a Where and some sort of Why.
My name is Rollin Atkinson. I’m 25 and I am absolutely pumped to be spending my first summer at Camp Augusta as a Master of Fun & Games (MFG)! I am a comedian/actor. I am a resident performer at ImprovBoston and have acted onstage and in various film and commercial projects in the Boston area as well. I also do a great deal of writing in my own time. Like many young artists, my art doesn’t quite keep the lights on, so I bartend on the side. I find bartending to be a great deal of fun and a tremendous medium to connect with and serve other human beings!
For us, the where will be Nevada City, CA–and what a where that is! For me, however, there are many wheres impacting my reality. I was born in Worcester, MA where I lived for the first four years of my life with my parents and older sister, Chandler (She works here too! More on that later). I have a mere handful of memories from Worcester, but most of them include stomping–rain puddles, leaf piles, or in protest of parental orders. When I was four we moved to Amherst, MA where I served the majority of my childhood. When I was six and seven I was joined by two freshly jellied siblings, Wade and Lane. Having much younger siblings meant lots of babysitting experience without the hassle of getting paid! Growing up, my family was musical theatre oriented, which led me to my first stage appearance as the rug in a community theatre production of Beauty and the Beast. Though I loved sports and the arts, once I reached middle school social pressures pushed me to pursue only the former. By high school, my love of alpine skiing landed me at Sugar Bowl Academy in Norden, CA (Coincidentally, just 40 miles from Camp Augusta!). Isolated on top of a mountain, the school of 70 kids united around the shared goal of becoming exceptional student athletes fostered my love of nature, friendship and community. College brought me back to the east coast where I attended Northeastern University in Boston, MA. There, I studied International Affairs until switching my focus to Theatre my senior year. Since graduating, I’ve remained in Boston performing comedy at ImprovBoston and filling souls and tummies at Island Creek Oyster Bar around the corner from Fenway Park. I love where I’ve been; and I am beyond stoked to share everything those places have taught me this summer at Camp Augusta!
It’s hard to think of a more idyllic place than summer camp and Augusta is an absolute superstar within that category. To steal a term from comedian Pete Holmes, I am a Silly Silly Fun Boy! Meaning, I hold play, laughter and silliness among humanity’s highest states of being. I find kids are far more in touch with their innately human sense of play and discovery and are, therefore, a pure joy to share ideas and experiences with. This summer, I am thrilled to pursue and facilitate personal growth through silliness, play and adventure at Camp Augusta!
2. Yes, And
In improv, when someone else puts forth an offer, you agree to it–you say “yes”. Then, you add on to their offer–you say “and”. In this way, we build something together with love and efficiency.
This spring, I was out to lunch with my older sister, Chandler (Oak Village Leader), at a Boston favorite of ours, Veggie Galaxy (Don’t take our word for it; Guy Fieri is a fan too!). As our food arrived, Chandler asked, “Any chance you would like to be a counselor at camp?” I chewed a large bite of my vegan “tuna” melt and, after swallowing, replied “Yes, [and] I would love that.” I’d visited camp the summer before and had listened to Chandler talk about it non-stop and, frankly, I wanted in. So when the offer came the choice to say yes, and move across the country for the summer came naturally!
3. Make Statements
When you ask questions in Improv, you make extra work for your scene partner. Instead, it’s good form to make statements so the scene can move forward. I will now make a bunch of statements about myself.
I am a classically trained singer.
My favorite book is Island by Aldous Huxley.
My favorite movie is UP!
Last month I wrote and performed a sketch in which my best friend and I covered ourselves, head-to-toe, in peanut butter and jelly.
My guilty pleasure pump up song is “Ugly Heart” by G.R.L.
I won’t complain about the weather being too hot, only about it being too cold.
This fall, I’m moving to Chicago to pursue improv comedy.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a firetruck when I grew up (you can kinda tell, right?).
I love all dogs.
I do my best to love all people.
I do Crossfit.
I starred in a film across from Ki Hong Lee.
My favorite comedian is Bo Burnham
My favorite podcast is You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes
I know a lot about oysters.
I like electronic music.
I am a musical theatre nerd.
My mom sent my three siblings to see the original cast of Hamilton without me!
I am a Hufflepuff.
I grew up Episcopalian.
I meditate every day.
Ram Dass is my favorite person I’ve never met.
My first job in college was at a children’s birthday party place with a lot of giant inflatable play structures.
I studied Shakespeare in London.
I’m liable to eat an entire jar of crunchy peanut butter in a single sitting.
I choose to live in a state of wonder!
4. There Are No Mistakes
Much of learning improv is learning to trust yourself and follow your impulses. If you listen closely, you may hear a quiet, yet sure voice deep inside you that knows where you need to go. From this place, you accept reality and move forward. In improv, mistakes are seen as opportunities rather than failures. If someone mispeaks, perhaps their pronunciation will illuminate something new about the world and become a source of fun to follow.
Without the mistakes I’ve made, I wouldn’t have learned much about life. Making mistakes and growing from them is much of what being human is all about! It seems every time I miss out on something I want, it ultimately leads me to finding something new. I recently fell just short of a big acting opportunity for this summer. I spent several days pouting over the loss. And then the opportunity to be an MFG at Camp Augusta fell into my lap. Had I got the acting job, I never would have been afforded this experience! We can’t know exactly where we’re headed, we can only follow our hearts, one step at a time. There are no mistakes!