Well here it is folks, the final chapter in my Improv 101 journey. It’s official, I’ve graduated!
I could probably write 5 pages about the graduation experience but it was such a great experience that I feel protective over the details and the people who shared the experience with me. I’m keeping this one private, except for the following details. We rocked the sh%t out of this show. It was a whirlwind of awesome sauce followed up by a tornado of excitement and emotion. The biggest validator to me though was walking through the audience at the end and having complete strangers tell me that I did a great job. That was HUGE for me. Complete strangers, not my husband, not my teachers and not my classmates. I could no longer shrug off the compliments justifying them by thinking that they “had” to say that because we knew each other. It was the realization that I touched people and that my words and actions mattered. It added to my sense of accomplishment and felt like the icing on the cake. For now, I was complete. Confidence level - 11 out of 10! Appreciation for my classmates, teachers and those that came out to watch and support us - off the charts!
One final thing. When most people hear that you have joined an improv group, they think it is all about learning about comedy and how to be funny, but it’s so much more than that, almost too much to describe without experiencing it. One thing to note because improv is a group activity, if you are looking for an outlet where you want to be the center of attention, than maybe something like standup would be better for you. You see, the first rule of improv is to make your partner look good and this is a life lesson. When my husband started the class with me, he was very ego driven. There were a couple of reasons for this, first, he was an only child who spent most of his time with adults and without any other children in the family around, he became accustomed to being in the spotlight without having to share the attention. The second reason was that he worked in the corporate culture for many, many years. If you’ve experienced that culture, for the most part, it’s every man for himself fighting for any piece of the pie. The philosophy of “make your partner look good” was a foreign concept, and he was used to asking himself “what’s in it for me?”
This class changed all of that. We both learned the concept of collaboration rather than competition. We learned that making your partner look good is so much more than just a phrase. It’s the act of building people up and “having their backs” and that's exponentially more powerful than tearing them down. We learned how to listen and how to communicate more effectively on stage and off. While my husband’s confidence was never an issue, when I first started this group, I had been isolating myself, was socially withdrawn and uncomfortable in my own skin. As the weeks went on, I became much more confident and even more driven to be of service. I began to work on all of the projects I’ve been dreaming of and was able to meet people and network in a way I could not before. I now know who I am and the kind of legacy I want to leave. All of this and so much more may not have happened if I hadn’t listened to that intuitive voice that said, be afraid, but do it anyway.
Thank you to all of those that worked with me in this endeavor, those that supported the choice, cheered me on, helped me and had my back in a way I had never experienced before. I will NEVER forget improv 101, my classmates and teachers. Please know that whatever things I accomplish going forward, it was because you had my back in this experience. I can’t wait to see all of the amazing things you'll do and hope they know that I’ll always have your backs as well and be there to make my partners look good!