Toy Box

The day I started liking, and learning improv

I had been attending improv workshops for about 2 months. I was painfully aware of how awkward I felt, and how blank my usually full mind went when called upon to be spontaneous. That was the whole point of course, but it felt so unnatural to me.

One particular Monday evening we played the audience game. This game involved all players bar one sit as an audience and listen to the other attempt to “be funny”. If they decided it wasn’t funny, they got up and left the room. The game ended once the last audience member left the room.

My ineptitude finally had run out of places to hide. I dreaded this exercise, so I opted to be one of the first to try it. As I stood up in front of my su-peer-iors, one internal voice clearly warned me of my impending doom. Then another one simple spoke two words “f’!@k it”.

I found the second voice to be the more calm headed of the two so I decided to follow its advice. I began shooing my audience out, insulting them and basically telling them how much I no longer cared what they thought. I can honestly say in that moment I did that for myself and nobody else. Funnily enough, they laughed.

Improv is a gift for many applications. It can bring much-needed play into any space, work or otherwise. It can also free us as individuals. That “f!@k it” mindset follows all performers onto the stage where audiences laugh at. This same mindset gives permission for all of us to express something authentic, individual and special. The reception may be laughter, but it is always an appreciative reception.

I write about teaching improv to children as they are the easy converts. They still hold onto their “f!@k it” bubble onto some way into their school life. Us adults are another story. A “f!@k it” bubble is a vital part of our mental health and yet we go out of our way to avoid it. Sad as it is, it can be the very thing we avoid that proves the one thing we really need.

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