Ok guys. I have improv envy. And I feel crappy about it. Because my envy is directed at a friend, and although I’m keeping it under wraps, I feel ashamed because friends shouldn’t be envious of each other. NOBODY likes to feel someone’s envy or jealousy. That feels shitty, and we all know intellectually that your envy and your jealousy is about you and not the other person.
It hurts though.
It’s about me not feeling confident in myself. Maybe I should give myself a break - I just quit my full-time job to pursue an unpaid internship and finally do the things I love, but at the same time I feel deep down in my bones scared. I’ve not taken a risk like this before. I’m putting it all out there, and there’s no cushy job to fall back on. I can’t hide now. This has given me the freedom to get creative and receptive to new opportunities that might be coming my way, but, at the same time, I’m facing the fear of failure. You know, the “what if I’m not good enough, and people find out, and I’m run out of town for being a fraud? And I’ll live under a bridge without any friends. And it’ll snow. And i’ll just freeze to death. And nobody would ever find out, not until a million years later when they find me in an ice cube and put me on display with the caption: FROZEN LOSER OF THE EARLY 21st CENTURY.” Those kind of thoughts.
Sometimes my mind says: “If you’re not creative or doing something awesome with your life 100% of the time, you might as well lay down and die because you’re a waste of a human.” And then of course I paralyze myself with that kind of harsh thinking, don’t spend the time I need to think of great ideas or work on creative things, and then I lose more confidence because I ARE NOT BEING CREATIVE!!
This is an overactive mind jumping to conclusions, indulging in all-or-nothing thinking, fortune-telling, and all those other wonderful cognitive-behavioral things I should know by now.
So, real talk.
Improv friend, I am envious of your talent, and I worry that I’ll never be as talented as you. And for some reason I feel threatened by that, as if everything I do is worthless because you’re so great. Similar to I felt in art school. Yikes! This is art school insecurity, take 2.
After art school, I refused to do art because I was so traumatized by my own insecurity during the entire experience. But no, not anymore, I’m not gonna let that happen here.
I’m not gonna hide my envy. Here it is, in all it’s splendor!
I have improv envy. I have creative insecurity. I am an imperfect human. I want to do great things. I am scared.
And all of that is ok.
I feel a little better.
Do you have envy or insecurity somewhere in your life? I challenge you to do some real talk.
Anonymous asked: Love the site, it has been inspirational for me since I discovered it last year. I have been doing improv for over 3 years now and am in a weird spot with it. I consistently get positive notes and feedback yet I have not had a successful audition in a long while. The teams I am on are not getting accepted to festivals or getting asked to play by other teams. The thing that annoys me most is I get told I am fun to play with yet no one ever invites me to join a team. Am I just overly sensitive?
Hmm… Not really, but maybe? Everyone wants validation and acceptance and success, after all.
You’re not alone. Everyone reading this has felt the exact same way. Hell, I feel that way all the time!
Ugh! It IS annoying and frustrating. So… what’s to be done?
- Enjoy what you have. Which is true. You’ve got a team. You’re doing well. People compliment you. That’s great! That’s really, really great, and being happy about that will only improve your improv.
- Ask. In a graceful way. Let other teams know you want to play with them. Let people know you’re looking for opportunities. It never hurts to ask.
- Make your own opportunities. Have your team host its own night. Set up a show. A festival might be too much to make, but performing regularly might make it more likely you’ll get accepted.
- Be the change you wish to seek. There are countless other people — great improvisers, people you’re friends with — who feel this same frustration. If you create your own show, you can give them opportunities to perform.
I hope this is useful. Also, you might find ImprovNonsense’s "It’s Yours" post to be helpful.
Make your own opportunities
If you’re fighting in your improv scene, make sure both actors agree on who is going to lose.
Maybe that? Oh goddammit, I don’t know. Still looking for some silver bullet piece of advice about FIGHTS.
- The funny thing of the scene is always more important than the fight itself.
What has been successful for me: when I notice a fight happening in a scene, I apologize and explain that I care about the other person. That brings it back to the deal or relationship between the two characters.
I used to spend a lot of time worrying about house teams and “the next level” when it came to improv. And I recently realized why: finding improv was one of the best things in my life and the second I found it, I began to worry that if I didn’t get good enough fast enough, improv would be taken away from me. My friends would make house teams and leave me behind and I’d have to go back to my normal life which was not a bad life, but was certainly a life that was less fun, less magical, less full.
But I’ve been a part of the improv world for about five years now, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned during that time, it’s that no one can take it away from you. Improv is yours for life.
I use improv when I’m interviewing people for work, when I’m teaching yoga, when I’m teaching clients how to tell better stories, when I’m writing, when I’m cooking, when a stranger asks me for money or directions or the time. When it comes to actual scenework, I feel great about pretty much every scene I’m in these days even if it sucked and it basically served as an opportunity for me to learn from my mistakes.
My first improv coach once told me improv was great, but only if we kept it in the appropriate “box.” I nodded my head, but I was doing improv 6 or 7 days a week back then, so at the time, the appropriate box meant “all the time.” Now I realize that none of the boxes in your life should be “all the time” boxes. We’re told that we need to do 10,000 hours to get good at improv, and I believe that going through that totally obsessed stage where you do improv every night is, for many of us, a kind of necessary and special rite of passage BUT… I personally am a better improviser now that my life is more well-rounded, now that improv is just one of many fascinating boxes on the shelf that is my creative life.
I think that what helped me feel as good about my improv as I do these days was by separating my professional and creative goals into two boxes. Professional goals are, to a certain extent, out of your control. You can do a ton of things to increase your likelihood of achieving professional success in an artistic field, but ultimately as long as there’s someone on the other side of the table deciding to cast you or hire you, give you funding or a run, there is an element that is out of your hands.
Creative goals, on the other hand, are yours alone, and they are completely within your control. As long as you’re trying hard, you’ll always get better. As long as you keep at it, you’ll continue to see new goals in the distance that will drive you to get better still. As long as you’re nice to people and serious about the work, you’ll always find people who want to play with you. Your friends may make house teams, as many of mine have, but they don’t leave you behind. And there are always new people to play with, and new teams to inspire you to do things you never thought possible before.
Success in improv is often tied up with success in the comedy business, but the two things are different. They often have a symbiotic relationship, but they do not need each other to survive.
You may not make it in the comedy business, at least not by the traditional definition of “making it.” I may not either.
But if you want to (and I know I sure want to), I’m pretty sure you can do improv for the rest of your life.
Ok, well, “playing game” generally means you do improv a bit more like you’re writing a sketch on your feet. It should feel like your scenes comes up a funny idea, and then once it finds its idea it uses that idea as the main theme.
Here some things you can work on.