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Improv 101 - A Journey Into the Unknown

Updated: Aug 18, 2022

Week 1

On July 26, 2022 I started a journey out of my comfort zone and into the unknown. I am taking an improv class, a beginner’s 101 class to be exact. I am not really sure how I ended up there but it seemed like divine intervention that all came together at the right time.

I had been following the Push Comedy Theater in Norfolk, Virginia for quite some time and saw that there had been classes to get started in improv. In the past, I skimmed past the advertisement, thinking “this isn’t for me”. Recently, there was a show that we went to see and I absolutely loved it, it seemed so freeing, funny and exciting. It’s hard to imagine this coming from the person that generally has never found traditional comedy “funny”. Intuitively I knew it was something I wanted to do but once again, money was an issue and I felt guilty spending so much on a “want” rather than a “need”. I blurted out that I needed to do this for myself to my husband and I knew that they had a new class starting in 4 days. Surprisingly, he agreed and here we are.

When I was justifying the cost of the course (which by the way is relatively inexpensive, all things considered) I looked at it as an investment. An investment in getting comfortable in my own skin and pushing myself further to achieve my goals. Recently, I have not been as sharp or as quick as I used to be. When you don’t use those skills, you definitely lose them and lately I feel like if something surprises me, I am a deer in headlights… I freeze and blank out. That’s not good for someone who wants to speak in front of people for a living. I thought that improv 101 would help me have skills to pivot when speaking off the cuff.

What last night made me realize is that yes, that was a potential benefit but there is so much more to it, at least for me. I was an “old soul” child and I never really learned how to play when I was growing up. I was required to be much more mature than others my age and I never really learned how to be a friend or to let loose and be free. This particular class may give me the opportunity to rewrite that story.

The first class went well, I had some hiccups, but that is to be expected. I did the one thing the instructor asked us NOT to do which was picked apart and critiqued my performance and just my overall conversations with a negative view last night after I got home. I fell into my old patterns of “that was a stupid thing to say” or “you should be so embarrassed”. I spent a few hours in that pity party last night and almost considered not going back.

When I first decided to do this, I told myself I was allowed to learn and make mistakes and that is okay, it’s all a part of our human existence. This was reinforced with the instructor’s message to look at the performance and review how else I could have reacted or what else I could say from a constructive and instructional place, rather than a critical one. Sage advice that I will continue to work on.

This first class was all of the very basic foundational stuff. Exercises to start thinking quickly on your feet, being a good partner and reframing your thinking to include “Yes, and…” statements so you can continue to build on someone else’s dialogue. Overall, so far (yes, it’s only the first class) it’s a great opportunity to learn and grow. There is a lot of information and even more vulnerability. This week’s confidence level is about a 6 out of 10.

Week 1 (Continued)

Tonight is Thursday 2/28/22 and I went to an improv practice group called “The Gym” at the theater. I was excited and nervous about being a part of the night. I stepped out of my comfort zone again and participated in the warm-ups and even stepped out and performed. While the performance went well, I did have an unfortunate physical incident where my knees gave out that I talk about in the next blog. This night’s confidence level for performance was an 8 out of 10. Overall confidence level (because of the physical issue) I would probably rate at a 4 out of 10 so there is room for improvement.

1 Comment

Thank you for sharing your stories! I can hear your voice. And you know I love when you tell stories! Love you!

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