I was too quick to judge this improv class. In a oddly positive way, I don’t think I’ve ever felt this terrible at improv before. In all these classes, there’s at least one dude who negates everything, never gets it, and ruins the scenes for everyone. I’m worried I’ve been that guy. This is probably me overreacting, but it seemed like a lot of the examples of people doing something wrong were things I did. If that’s true, it’s humbling to think of all the previous negators I’ve witnessed, and subsequently thought, “When is this guy gonna get it through his thick skull that he ruins everything?” Apparently right after the last class.
It kills me inside to think I’ve been guilty of that the past week. Granted, I’ve had some moments where I was funny, but my gut instinct is always to get to the punchline. Punchline! Punchline! Need a punchline! Beyond improv or stand up, I think that’s my attitude for life. Be interesting! Just be interesting! Don’t be one of these boring people! But it’s annoying to force punchlines. The guy who tries to turn everything into a joke is annoying. The guy who’s desperate to please you is annoying–and not fun for anyone. Those are the main ideas I pulled from the class. People enjoy confident people because it allows them to relax in their presence. Nervous, anxious people often make others nervous and anxious. You’re relaxed onstage, the audience relaxes. People want to have a good time and want those they are interacting with to have a good time as well. Audiences want to have fun, and want the performer to be having a fun with them.
Finding out I’m not great at any thing stinks, but it motivates me to get better. I’m more locked in. My senses are more attuned. Because I hate failure. I can’t stand it. And I’ll do whatever it takes to minimize it’s occurrence. No one likes faiiling, but when I do something I realize is a no-no in a scene or whatever, it takes me a solid 20 seconds to stop telling myself how awful I am. It’s just my natural thought process. The first second is, “Man, you’re horrible at comedy.” And then the next 19 seconds are , “Noooo. You’re being too hard on yourself. You’re still new at improv, it’s just one scene, you’re still funny at stand up, it’s just a learning experience, no one will remember in 2 minutes…” Then I’ll get mad at myself for getting mad at myself, “Man, you’re upset about improv class? What a worthless, privileged, piece of…nooooo. You’re being too hard on yourself. No one’s perfect, you’re just human…uh. Did I just remind myself that I’m human? What a worthless, privileged…” Finally, I’ll get a hold of myself, and I’ve missed a chunk of class/life because I had to convince myself making a mistake in improv 101 was okay. What a worthless…
My point is I may need a nap. I’ve slept less than 5 hours each of the past 5 nights. I’ve been leaving my friend’s apartment at 10am and returning at 1 or 2am each night, basically only eating, doing comedy, and traveling between venues. I don’t know why I thought 13 hour-a-day comedy excursions with 5 hours sleep wouldn’t be tiring, but I’m often proven wrong about how super-human I am. The big grad show is tomorrow at noon on Mother’s Day. You’re welcome, Mom!