Improv, specifically long form improv, is so freakin’ difficult!!! For me, anyway.
I’ve been taking classes at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre for the past year. And each class higher doesn’t get a little more challenging…. its like the difficulty level goes from A to Z with no alphabet in between! In my last class in particular, we were introduced to a lot of specific new rules and taught more advanced scenic structure. And then without fully understanding everything, we are told to jump in the scene and clear our heads and not think! So I do that. The problem is I clear my head but instead of a brilliant idea popping up to introduce to my scene partner, my mind stays blank to the point of having difficulty forming sentences. And I’m struggling for words and suddenly my vocabulary is about as extensive as a third grader. So I spend a lot of time glued against the back wall.
And I’m glued to this back wall with my arms crossed and struggling to pay attention to my classmates performing their scenes because I’m too busy telling myself how everyone is better than me and how I suck and I’m a little embarrassed to be there.
Now I’m also a bit embarrassed to admit this to you guys but I figure everyone can relate to some extent.
So I ask myself, why do I continue to do it?
Its not like I’m passionate about improv like some people are. Sure I definitely enjoy it when I’m able to commit myself to a scene, feeling fully present in the moment and making snappy and witty choices that move the story along in an interesting way. But for the time being its like I'm stuck in a rut and its taking my self confidence and burying it under the ground.
So I’m thinking about why I’m determined to not give up. Is it because my favorite shows on tv are sitcoms like 30 Rock, The Office and Modern Family? Is it because I have people in my classes and at UCB in general that are currently on these sitcoms or working on other tv shows and theatre productions sometimes because they are associated with UCB? Could it be because I find improvisation a fascinating and beautiful form created and structured from nothing but a single idea ? Or because comedy is what I love the most and if being involved with a community of improvisers is going to make me a better actor then so be it?
Yes all of the above. But maybe the number one reason I’m determined to stick with it is because it’s a challenge. If I can get over this pile of self doubt and introvertness I tend to slide back into every so often, how freeing would that be? And then I could be one of those people on stage I admire and who make improv look way too easy.
And here is my most recent, extremely talented class backstage after our performance: