Same old improv-stage-fright ramblings packaged in a slightly different way

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:

  1. Anxiously battle panic awaiting your turn to go up.
  2. Get on the stage like a deer in headlights, battle going blank, and mostly say stupid shit that doesn’t further the scene.
  3. Flog yourself afterwards for being terrible. Refuse to enjoy the rest of the show because you’re so wrapped up in yourself.
  4. 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.


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