The only thing more frightening than taking your first improv class, is the hours before your second improv class.
I know this because, in one hour, twenty-nine minutes, and thirteen seconds, I will attend my second improvisational comedy class ever at Dad’s Garage. And within a few minutes of my arrival, I will have to be funny on command. And other people will compare my funny to their funny, and everyone else’s funny, and judge me, and ohmygodImightfail!
Because I’m not a natural-born comedian.
I can’t compete with people who are.
And trying to be funny makes me feel self-conscious, and radically afraid of rejection.
Which is exactly why I signed up for this class. I need to get over myself, and stop worrying about what other people think, so I can be healthier, and inspire others to get healthy. For as much as I tell my yoga and wellness clients to trust the struggle, I need to challenge myself, to practice what I preach.
And so I will improvise on stage again tonight. I will remind myself that improv, like healthy living (and yoga, for that matter), is merely a practice to be mastered. It is grounded in philosophy, perfected through experience, and works like this:
Intention + Awareness – Attachment +Perseverance = Success
Sound familiar? Improv, like so many things in this crazy healthy life, is all about letting go so we can do it well.
There are a few basic rules, though. Improv always begins with a spontaneous offer. Our improv partner makes a suggestion, and we enthusiastically respond with “Yes! And…”
For example, Suzy might walk on stage to find Johnny pretending to cut down a tree, and say ‘They’re here, Dad! The tree huggers want to stop you from deforesting the park.” And from there, Johnny has the choice of changing the story, or playing along with Suzy’s suggestion. Playing along is always funnier, and could become, “Yes! And…I am prepared for them. The trees are covered in Vaseline.” And the comedy continues to grow, as long as the partners continue to respond positively.
Here’s the point: Johnny’s “Yes! And…”moves the story along. If he changes the offer by rejecting the tree hugger concept, and talking about something else (maybe a need for firewood) the humor begins to die.
Just like our commitment to crazy healthy begins to die, the minute we stop embracing opportunities to exercise and eat well. We have to meet healthy offers with, “Yes! And…” if we hope to evolve.
Every choice matters, and there is always a better offer, waiting for our embrace. Take these offers, and you’ll see that spontaneity breeds progress, in the form of longer runs, healthier meals, new yoga poses, and other really awesome accomplishments.
Tonight I will practice letting go on stage, so I can learn the art of improv. Of course, I’m still terrified of looking like a fool. Of being laughed at for the wrong reasons. And of finding out that maybe I’ll never be funny, no matter how hard I try.
But taking a chance is healthier than not trying at all, so I will show up at Dad’s Garage, armed with a positive attitude and a whole lotta “Yes! And…”
Photo: Dad’s Garage