Yeah, no, I know, after I haven’t thought about something for like a month, I’ll think of it again and come to the same exact conclusions all over again, and it feels like the first time every time.
Once again, I went to a Magnet Mixer (an improv jam) and didn’t jam.
People who knew me were like, “Whyyyyy not?”
It’s a good question. Everyone is scared, not just me. What drives them to go onstage, and what makes me hang back?
…I mean aside from garden-variety cowardice, I can deal with that.
Why do people get on stage at all? Why not limit improv to classrooms and apartments? I assume most people get some kind of a high from the adrenaline/endorphin rush of being on a stage and making people laugh, yes?
I must not have experienced that yet.
Here’s how the process of going on a stage works for me:
- Anxiously battle panic awaiting your turn to go up.
- Get on the stage like a deer in headlights, battle going blank, and mostly say stupid shit that doesn’t further the scene.
- Flog yourself afterwards for being terrible. Refuse to enjoy the rest of the show because you’re so wrapped up in yourself.
- Go home and try to remind yourself that you’re not a shitty human being.
The fun comes in where, exactly?
I keep thinking of Will Hines’ essay on “Improv As Religion“— a line from it, anyway:
We believe that these improv classes are going to burn away the parts of our personality that we don’t like and leave in its place a braver, more powerful person.
Improv requires a skill set and disposition that I don’t have, that I’ve never had, and that I’ve wanted to have for a long time. And I keep hearing that anyone can be an improviser. I’m filled with hope. Screw talk therapy, I’m going to DO something, I’m going to IMPROVISE.
Do I need to face the stage issues at some point? Absolutely. But I still have so much to learn offstage. I just want to keep learning for now, ever so slowly building that “braver, more powerful person,” until someday I feel like maybe I have a chance at climbing that stage, making people laugh, giving my scene partner a thrill, feeling good about myself, and claiming the adrenaline rush that is rightly mine.