Being Brave

The group I just started volunteering with, Funny Bones Improv, is holding a training class for people who want to volunteer, regardless of prior improv experience. It’s ten weeks long and folks can learn the basics of improv, the games we play, watch some of the shows, etc. and then start performing. Those of us who are already members are invited to come to the classes and participate, something I went to for the first time last night. It sounded like a great opportunity to get to know the new players, brush up on/learn games (since I’m really new and don’t know them all yet), and to just get in more improv time.

Some of the folks have acting, or even improv, experience. A few have none at all. So despite the fact I’ve only been doing this for a month, and improv for less than two years, one of them started asking me all these questions about improv and tips for games, wanting my experience. Being in this place of playing with people who see me as experienced, who are looking to me to lead the way and go first and be the brave one is such a weird feeling. I wanted to say, can’t you see I’m a fraud? I don’t know what I’m doing either.

I still feel so clumsy and slow and awkward when I’m on stage, almost all the time. If I’m with peers, or, heaven forbid, more experienced players, I tend to lock up and get nervous and feel like everything I’m doing is completely wrong. More than once I’ve gotten the note- “You didn’t speak”.

Yet, unexpectedly, last night was freeing. I was more brave. I did do more characters and space work. I did screw up more. It was really rather fun. Not that I was trying to be sloppy, I just enjoyed myself and when I messed up or got bumped out of a game it was great because now someone else got a turn.

For example- I caught myself talking in the first person some during Narrated Story last night, something I remember being told to do at ComedySportz in a similar game. I don’t think I ever did it there because I was too busy freaking out over all the things I was probably forgetting to do, worrying that I wasn’t telling the story right, and obsessing over the fact that my accent would be wrong and I’d probably change halfway through and ruin the entire thing.

Here’s a secret I learned- It’s fun. It’s goofy. And it helped the story to boot.

And as soon as I did it (in our 2nd try at the game) my classmates started doing it too. Suddenly they had permission. All night this happened. I did an accent, they did accents. I talked in the first person, they started talking in the first person. I mimed petting the lion or holding a box, they mimed holding things. It was an odd feeling. It also made me want to do more, try more, so they would too. To push my comfort zone so they would push theirs.

One night in a level one class and I have buckets of new insights into my play. I absolutely did not expect that.

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