For my pre-practice rituals (and I guess pre-show rituals, tho’ I haven’t had a show in a while), in addition to ½ cup coffee, 3-5 min of Mind Games on the train, and 3-5 min of Dada Monologue as I walk from the station to the studio, I’ve added “be funny for a few hours beforehand” to the list of things to help put my mind in a peak improv mood.
…Which sounds a little weird when I type it out, not gonna lie. I believe that trying to be funny is a recipe for automatically not being funny. More accurately, I am trying to let myself be funny. Permission granted, go ahead, do it.
Here’s the thing: one of the reasons I started getting into improv in the first place was to learn how to be funny without alcohol.
The reason I think it’s easier to be funny with alcohol is because alcohol allows my carefully constructed wall of social propriety to fall to the ground. More succinctly: lowered inhibitions.
And one of the things I’ve learned from doing improv is that it’s hard to be funny if you’re inhibited. Inhibitions = fear = not taking risks, avoiding bold moves, doing cautious improv = bad comedy.
And the inhibitions that stop me from being a goof in everyday conversations are pretty much the same inhibitions that make me freeze up when I improvise.
So: I’m trying to practice being a goof in everyday conversations. I do characters and voices, I break into small silly dances, I crack jokes without second-guessing how funny they are. (A lot of it is in the delivery, I’ve found. And shrugging off the failures. And having an appreciative audience. My coworkers, thankfully, chuckle politely anytime they identify a joke as a joke, which is enough for me.)
My point: in my estimation, as an anxious performer, learning to be loose and goofy in front of one person… is a precursor to learning to be loose and goofy in front of seven people… is a precursor for learning to be loose and goofy in front of a thousand people.
Can I maintain this playful persona all the time? Fuck no. I can’t force playfulness if I’m not feeling it, but— I guess in the school of CBT— I can focus on little concrete goals, like finding reasons to insert silly voices into my conversations. And over time, “silly voices” can lead to “silly” can lead to “less inhibited improv.”
My own probably-ignorant two-cent ramblings, as ever.
P.S. Text images are dumb! Don’t care, using them anyway, fuck you.