So I failed myself by not posting anything on this blog in the month of July, and thereby failing one of my 2017 New Year’s Resolutions (to post on a monthly basis at the very least). In my defense, I went through quite a major change in my life last month and it took me a while to get used to what is now the New Normal. But enough excuses, here I am, writing BS again, hoping it would bring a smile to someone 🙂
You know that type of person who sees someone else doing something really cool and thinks to themself “I can do better than THAT!”, only to realize they suck at it when it’s really their turn? Well I am one of them.
I’ve always wanted to learn comedy at some point in life (because why not?), so when I saw a class that fits my very odd schedule, I signed up in a heartbeat. Well probably in a few (dozen) heartbeats because the course wasn’t exactly free LOL. I had a very vague idea of what Improv Comedy is all about, but I thought it doesn’t hurt to try.
***For those of you who didn’t know (like me back then), improv is a form of live theatre in which the plot, characters and dialogue are made up in the moment. Often improvisers will take a suggestion from the audience to get started.
1 month and a half later, I’ve completed the 6 lessons and was even lucky enough to have been in one show. And let me tell you, this improv thing is so goddamn freaking hard but also extremely, terribly, unbelievably AWESOME.
And because I feel that the lessons I learnt from Improv are actually all very relevant in the real world, I thought I would put them all together in this post here, for personal growth purposes 😛
1, Say yes first, and then figure it out later
So the number one rule in Improv is “Yes, and…“. What that means is to accept whatever information that your partner offers, and start adding more to it. If your partner says “You smell“, you start acting like you exude a foul odor that causes everyone around to cover their noses. If your partner calls you his/her son, you assume the role of a son and start calling him/her papa or mama. No but, no objection, no questions asked.
Why this rule of thumb is interesting to me is because I’ve never been a Yes person. My automatic response to any proposal (with the exception of marriage proposal, if any :D), is “Let me think about it“, or “Maybe“, or at the very best “I really like that idea but can I give you an answer, i don’t know, … 2 years later?”
So as you can imagine, I missed out on a lot of opportunities because of my tendency to take forever to make a decision. Naturally, the “yes, and…” mentality of Improv really sank in me, because it takes some big balls to f*** it all and just go ahead with whatever is presented in front of you.
2, Trust your partners
Last night before going on stage, all of my co-performers patted one another in the back and said “Got your back”. There’s something so powerful in that sweet little sentence that fuelled my confidence to be on stage performing improv for the first time in my life.
Coming on stage without any preparation, no script, no plot, no nothing, is a scary feeling. You don’t know what is gonna happen, where the story is gonna go, if the audience is gonna laugh. The only thing you know is that your partners “got your back”. They will look out for you if you suddenly have a brain fart while on stage, or if you utter a line that makes absolutely no sense.
When you think about it, life is like one big massive improv show. You never know what’s gonna happen next, or where the story is gonna go. You just gotta trust that whatever is going to happen, your partner(s) will be there for you, will got your back, will laugh with you when noone else does. And you need that kind of confidence, that kind of trust to stand tall, to go out there and just have fun.
3, Talk less, listen more
As you can imagine, because an improv show is made up on the spot, it will make absolutely no sense unless each improviser listens closely to one another to understand what the hell is going on. This is much easier said than done. When performing you feel this voice inside you that urges you to say something, say something funny, say something now! But improv is not about making yourself shine, it’s the ultimate test of team spirit, and what is team spirit if nobody listens to anybody?
In the real world, I often find myself automatically zoning out when others start to talk (about something uninteresting), or just plotting in my head what I’m gonna say next. I now realize how disrespectful and egoistic this is. Definitely less of that from now on!
4, Stop beating yourself up
As a beginner, I go through all sorts of negative feelings, from self-doubt, cluelessness and just overall self-disappointment. Everyone else seems much smoother, funnier, more quick-witted than me. I often find myself pondering on what I could have said at that particular moment, or wondering why the audience didn’t respond to that joke that seemed funny in my head LOL.
But if there’s anything I learnt from this 6 weeks, it is to go easy on myself. So who cares if I f*** up. Of course I will f*** up. Everyone does. It’s all part of growing up, as an improviser and as a human alike.
So there you have it, my 4 takeaways from Improv Comedy.
If you want to have a good laugh (and cheer me up while doing so), please come watch our Graduation Show next Saturday. It’s free!!!!!! On a side note though, we are all just beginners in this improv world, so if you do come, please come with low expectations alright? 😀
If you want to try Improv out yourself, register for a course and become part of the Rotten Grapes. The courses are available in both English and Vietnamese. More information here.
Till next time!