I remember the very first day of improv class at the training center I attended in Denver. The room was so quiet you could practically hear everyone breathing. No one sat together. No one made eye contact. No one even seemed like they came into the space voluntarily – not even me.
And I had already been through an entire training program in Philadelphia.
In fact, I had already been on an improv troupe. So why was I – along with everyone else – acting like the big, bad improv wolf was about to eat us?
1. “I suck.” So many fears fall into this category. The fear of not being funny enough. The fear of just not being enough – period. The fear of stumbling in the moment and not knowing what to say or do. The fear of not being a big enough personality. However, in improv if we trust the process and get out of our way, we don’t suck. It’s really that easy. Except it isn’t. It’s hard to trust the process because ego is involved. Which bring us to the next reason …
2. “I’ll look ridiculous.” Yes, you will look ridiculous. And so will I. And so will everyone in the room. However, the person who looks the most ridiculous is the person who isn’t committed to looking ridiculous. Make sense? When everyone commits to the exercise, the game, the activity, the truth is that no one looks ridiculous because everyone is supporting and accepting and making each other look brilliant. The person who can’t commit to going big, is often the person who might not be trustworthy which leads us to the final reason…
3. “I don’t trust the people in this room.” And this is the BIGGIE. What it all boils down to is who is in the room and how they respond to what we do – or don’t do. If “I suck” in my Level 1 improv class, will someone have my back? Will I be supported? Will I feel horrible about some of my choices? Or, will my classmates build me up and remind me that mistakes are part of the process?
In Denver, I had a great group of people with me during five levels of improv training. We got to know each other so well that we started pointing out each other’s bad improv habits – with a smile of course. Last week I was back in Denver for the first time since I moved. I saw one of my favorite classmates and he said to me, “Remember how we always used to do argument scenes in class?” Yes! Yes, I remember all the arguing. I remember the scene we once did where he needed to kiss a frog and he wouldn’t. I remember how I always used to open kitchen cabinets in opening scenes. I remember so much of what all of us did together – the “suck,” the ridiculousness, and, the way we finally started to trust each other. I’m glad we all pushed through the awkwardness of the first class – together.
I invite you to do the same.
OPPORTUNITIES TO SLAY THE IMPROV WOLF (for grown-ups and kids):
Throughout this 8-week course, students will explore the basic concepts of improvisation in a warm, safe and supportive environment. The class is designed to build self-confidence and explore creativity using the fundamentals of improvisation.
Throughout this 1-week camp, students will explore the basic concepts of improvisation in a warm, safe and supportive environment. The camp is designed to build self-confidence and explore creativity using the fundamentals of improvisation. Camp will culminate in a short showcase for friends and family on Friday, June 9th at 5 p.m.
Please visit The Adventure Project’s calendar for more details and to register.