On Sunday, my mono-scene class had its last show (at the Magnet, Level 4 and up get four shows, ‘cos you get to be a better performer by performing). It wasn’t great. When our instructor gave us notes afterwards, one of my classmates started apologizing, and the instructor broke to give us a quick pep talk instead:
Mistakes are part of this. We all want to be perfect improvisers, and we will NEVER be perfect improvisers, none of us. No matter how long you do it, you will ALWAYS be messing up. We’re all trying to climb this impossibly tall unclimbable tree, and all we can do is try to hit a few branches on the way down so we don’t land quite so badly. That’s all improv training is, is learning how to hit branches during our inevitable fall.
Lately I’ve realized that a lot of really good improvisers shake onstage. I noticed a house-team guy do it once, and now I’ve started to specifically look for it. I don’t bring it up to be cruel; rather, it’s comforting to find out that I’m not alone in being scared as hell onstage, and comforting that you can still be amazing even if you are scared as hell.
Tonight, I started a scene with an Australian accent, and over the course of two sentences, it transmogrified into Southern/Texan.
…I get progressively more freaked out the more people I have to play with at once.
Monoscenes, by definition, require interacting with a large group of people at once, which I’m starting to think automatically sets off my introversion/ social anxiety/ agoraphobia/ fear, and renders me useless for improv.
– Me, 7-23-14
I continue to have a lot of trouble with group scenes. So here are tips from a Real Improv Instructor on how to insert yourself into the group dialogue:
- Verbally agree with/ repeat what’s being said— “yeah, yeah, bandanas, right!”— Because then you’re immediately a participant in the scene, not an observer.
- Don’t be so polite! Give and take focus— If you do find a line, and you start to say it, and someone else talks over you, DON’T LET ‘EM if it’s not their turn. Also try to be conscious if you’re bulldozing the scene (‘cos that’s just as bad).
There may be more, but that’s all I can remember that Real Improv Instructor told us.
I just noticed that I’m in love with improv right now.
I get on stage, and I do a shitty job, and I walk off giggling and itching to get back up there and give it another go. That was fun, but I coulda done that one thing better, so let’s have a do-over, I’ll get it right this time, yeahhhh!
This has not always been my attitude. In retrospect, I think I have DCM16 and autumn hypomania to thank. But yeah, this is what I’ve been striving for for the past year.
…Welp, guess we can shut the doors on this blog of improv angst. *wipes off hands and rides into the sunset*
(Don’t worry, we’ll return soon with a brand new season of fear-borne existential crises! Stay tuned.)
During the break of a drop-in class:
Dude: Are you on a house team?
Me: [heart grows wings and floats off into the stratosphere]
Robin, you have so much talent.
Guuuh…? Um you too…!
I love doing scenes with you, and I am really gonna miss playing with you.
-Unsolicited conversation with a classmate after our last Level 3 class
My PIT Level 1 show was on Friday, and I don’t need to rehash it, because objectively the show overall didn’t have a lot of great points. But I felt pretty okay about it, like my particular contributions weren’t too bad. There were plllleeeeeenty of opportunities for me to kick myself later (and even during! “Robin, this scene is flagging! They need support! Do a walk-on! Or an edit! Without being a dick! Argh! How?! Where’s the opportunity??! Dammit, that would’ve been a good spot!! Fuck!!!”), but I feel like I’m starting to get a handle on a little bit of that Improv-Brain I’ve always coveted.
Four months after my Magnet Level 1 show, I have finally signed up for Level 2! Woohoo! Emotional progress! Financial security! Wait not that last thing.
Classmate: You’ve done standup, right?
Me: Ha! No.