“SO— Robin— what’s with you not taking Level 2, huh?” Pete asked as a few of us walked over to Walter’s ($5 for two PBRs!) after our first practice group. Of the six people who showed up, I was the only Magnet Improv Level 1 graduate who wasn’t enrolled in the next class.
“I kind of don’t ever want to go on stage again,” I answered.
“You can’t just give up after one bad show!” he said. “You’ve got to give it a chance! Do it for a while before you throw in the towel!”
“I’m not throwing in the towel! Did I not organize tonight’s practice group?”
“Then why aren’t you taking Level 2?!”
“I’m giving myself some time to improve on my basic skills, so the NEXT time I get on a stage, I’ll be better prepared.”
“Improve your skills by taking Level 2!” Graham piped in.
“Look,” I said, exasperated and apparently in need of a metaphor, “I run. I enjoy running. Running is fun for me. I run because I like the runner’s high, because I like fresh air, because I like passing people, because I like gradually getting better, because it’s a challenge.”
“Okay,” said Pete.
“I do not run because I want to win a marathon. That is not my end goal. I don’t have an end goal. I am just running because it’s fun.”
“Okay,” said Pete.
“That’s how I am with improv, too.”
“Oh,” said Graham. (Cue lightbulb.) “That makes sense.”
“No it doesn’t!” said Pete, determined to persuade me. “Classes are fun, playing is fun, learning is fun. Classes are a safe environment, and you have a fun experience at the end where you can face your fears! Don’t let the fear control you!”
“Dude, I’m not saying I will never take Level 2. I am saying not right now. I am doing practice groups and drop-in classes and mixers and watching shows. I am not disappearing from the community. I just don’t want to take Level 2 right now.”
“Look— hasn’t improv improved your life outside of class?”
“Yes! No doubt! But I don’t need to take an ‘Intro to Long Form’ class to continue benefitting from improv principles!”
I’m not in any hurry. I’m not doing this to be a professional comedian, or improviser, or entertainer. I’m doing this because it seems like it might be a fun skill to learn. I will go at my pace, you can go at yours, and maybe we will find ourselves at the same marathon some years from now.