The Theatrical Journalist

Improv, Comedy, Women, Melbourne and everything in between.

What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?

scott tina

Sheryl Sandberg makes a good point when she asks, “what would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to try acting, improvisation, standup, dancing, singing, but you can’t muster up the courage to do so as the couch seems far more comfortable and involves limited social interaction.

For those of you who have always wanted to try improv, following in the steps of legends Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Steve Carrell, Jordan Peele, et al; my advice is this: just do it.

So, you’re thinking about taking improv classes because you:

a) want a fun challenge

b) love performing

c) want to make new friends and drink many a beer after classes and shows

d) Tina Fey and Amy Poehler subliminally told you to

e) Just ’cause, dammit

Even with all these awesome reasons swimming around your head, there’s still something holding you back.

Are you not much of an extrovert? Do you get stage fright? You think you can’t make people laugh because you don’t get comments on your Facebook statuses saying “U shud be a comedian LoL!”?

Well, here’s the good news: by day, most improvisers are lawyers, writers, IT technicians, teachers, students, scientists, couch people, regular people who aren’t defined by their careers, and performers. We’re not a convoy of show-ponies. The best improv team will have a mix of thinkers and doers who are willing to take on every role.

Perhaps you’re nervous because you think improvisation involves a spotlight on you to constantly come up with funny things. Over time, you learn that the most important thing about performing improv is making your scene-partner look the best they can – which means someone is doing the same for you. Not every word out of your mouth has to be comedic gold, and the audience will laugh the loudest at quiet, unexpected moments of human truth, not pre-planned punchlines.

Improvisation requires one to be their own scene writer, director, performer and editor. But even more so, it requires you to be there for your fellow performers – this show isn’t all about you, it’s about what 6 – 10 people can accomplish in 30 minutes with a one word suggestion from the audience. Once you trust your team, the nerves settle and the only thing left is excitement and a stage awaiting your presence.

Trust your team, and trust the audience. The truth is, no one watches an improv show like they watch a Miley Cyrus videoclip – no one is paying for a ticket just to say “I saw it, and I HATED it”. Your audience has an understanding and appreciation of the wonderful art that is improvised comedy, and no one wants to see you sweat your way through a tortuous scene.

If you take two things away from this piece, it’s these:

1) Don’t be afraid of the audience. When you’re sweating it out on the sidelines, no one wants to see you fail. You know that feeling you get when you watch a colleague painfully sweat their way through an oral presentation? Have no fear, the crowd is here. And the crowd is electric with compassion and anticipation – the laughs are halfway up their throats already.

2) Sign up for improv classes. Do it, give it a try. Because it might just be the most awesome thing you’ll ever do.

Yours truly,
an anxious person/regular performer who loves it

bossypants-improv

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One comment on “What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?

  1. Pingback: Yes, And ... - Already Pretty | Where style meets body image

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This entry was posted on December 23, 2013 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , .
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