January 5, 2016
A few Peepshows back, I wrote about my decision to sign up for my very first improv comedy class using my Muse It Or Lose It stipend. Well, folks, the performance has come and gone, and — drumroll — I’m not on SNL.
Don’t get me wrong. I made gains up on that stage. I saw a front rower spit out a Sour Patch Kid at one of my jokes, and my co-workers in the audience can back me up that I was by far not the worst. However, I don’t think the comedic life is my calling. For now, I’m going to stick to the fast lane. The Fast Horse lane that is. Ba-dum-chh.
So I’m not walking away the next Tina Fey, but I am walking away with exactly three new life lessons to carry me forward.
1. Get really comfortable with being uncomfortable.
I was the only girl in a class of nine, and it was clear that a majority of the people were Minneapolis actors trying to boost their resumes. One guy was already in an improv troupe. C’mon, dude! I thought this was 101. I was clearly a fish out of water, and it made me nervous. For a two-hour chunk of time every Tuesday for two months, I knew I was going to feel uncomfortable. I had to mentally pep talk myself for the awkwardness that was guaranteed to ensue. As the weeks went on, it never got less uncomfortable. I just got more comfortable being uncomfortable. I accepted the fact that I was going to feel embarrassed, weird and stupid sometimes on stage. But that’s okay. Even “definitely shouldn’t be in 101” guy said some cricket-inducing things.
2. Don’t think so much.
I’m the definition of an over-thinker. I over-think thinking. I reread emails at least seven times before I send them. During brainstorms, I run things through my head for five minutes instead of just shouting out my ideas. But with improv, there is literally no time to think. You have to blurt out the first thing that pops into your head or risk a painful silence that stunts the scene. This class helped me tone down the constant analysis I put myself through and be confident in my original decisions and ideas because more often than not, they are pretty good. Except when you blurt out “Let’s go get an Orange Julius” in a scene about storks delivering babies, and then nobody knows what to do next. Not good.
3. Do more things that are completely different than your day job.
I would say improv is quite different from my job at Fast Horse. Both are creative and fast-paced, but I’m not expected to whip out a Southern accent while cracking a one-liner on the reg in the office. The challenges that come with improv are different than the challenges I deal with at work, and thus, helped round out my ongoing life education. Now that my comedy class adventure is over, I wanted to find another activity not at all connected to the marketing world. Hello, hip-hop! I’m now taking a weekly hip-hop dance class for the next few months. While not exactly useful for client relationship managing, it’s great for my physical health, overall spirit, and most importantly, the next Fast Horse night out.