#7 – How to do Improv

I had my final Improv 101 class the other night. I will really miss showing up every Monday, throwing away my cool card and just have fun acting ridiculous. Some of the improve drills we do I’m pretty sure I would only ever consider doing under the influence of alcohol. I shit you not one of the games is called, “Pass the face.” We all stand in a circle and someone starts by looking to the person standing to their right, makes a face, that now that person has to mimic to the man or woman standing to their right.

You would never imagine a bunch of 20 and 30 year olds would do such a thing.

It was really hard at first. I did not want to look like an idiot or make a fool of myself in front of these way cooler than me group of millennials. I was the elder statesmen (I’m guessing here) of the class. For the most part I was very shy and reserved. I’m not great at making friends in situations where everyone is a stranger to me. The funny thing was any self-conscious I felt was thrown out the window when it came time to get up and perform.

This class should be required of everyone suffering from OCD, especially people like me who have perfectionist tendencies.

In Improv when you start to thinking, you’re in trouble. You just have to go with it. The best scenes for me were the ones I became totally immersed in the moment. Everything slowed down. I could not see anything or anyone else in the room except the other person in the scene with me.

Everything just flowed naturally. My reactions felt instinctual vs. thought out. It is like one of the mornings when you pull into work you have no recollection of how you got there. Your mind was somewhere else but you still made it to work safe and sound.

As someone with OCD it is a pretty surreal experience. To accomplish something like an improve scene without being immersed in your thinking mind.

It was in the scenes that I became conscious of what I was doing and I started thinking that things immediately went go downhill.

My OCD mind took over. I was like “shit, you are making a completely fool of yourself, you better think of something funny to say or you are going to look like an asshole. Todd you are totally fucking up the scene.” The harder I tried to make it better the worse it got.

More people than you think have a respect and admiration for others being vulnerable. There were times during a scene I just want to curl up in a ball and slowly crawl out the back door and never return. That feeling became less and less as I realized my classmates where in my corner, they were there to support me, not judge or criticize.

Everyone single one of them had moments they too wanted to discretely exit and not return. The funny thing was none of us ever noticed. You realize things are going much worse in your head then they are in anyone else’s.

I learned to be comfortable with the fact I might say something incredibly stupid or worse boring, making a complete out of myself. I realized everyone else has the same worries and insecurities as I did, that in the moments I felt I was making a fool of myself, they were standing in my corner rooting me on.

On a side note, I was really lucky to have the coolest bunch of classmates and amazing teacher. Shout out to Tara Demmy’s Monday night improve 101 class!!

I think one of the reasons I started a brownie business was because I loved to bake. I loved being able to create something from scratch, share it with others and get instant feedback. I thrived off that.

Improv for me was that in spades. The feedback was even more instantaneous.  Instead of coming at the end you got it throughout processes of creating and you fed off it. You took the feedback you got from the audience and it became infused in your performance

I loved my improv class. It allowed me to express my creativity and be somebody I so rarely get to be, a performer and I think I was pretty good at it.

At the end of the 8 weeks I became more comfortable with people watching, seeing me mostly fail but occasionally succeed. In improv you are flaws are exposed but so are your strengths. There is no undo button, there is no editing.

I realized that when I let myself be vulnerable enough to having my failures be a display for all to see a funny thing happened, I became pretty good at something I never thought I’d ever have the balls to try.




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