I saw my first improv show back when I was in college at Northeastern in Boston. We’d trek to the North End to catch the late night show at Improv Asylum and each time, without fail, laugh our bums off.
Fast forward 5 years, I’m living in Norfolk, Virginia and spending my days as a Head Project Manager + Writer at Your Hot Copy. At the beginning of the year, I set some goals and declared that this would be the year I took an Improv class.
Why Improv? Lots of reasons.
The players all seemed to be having an awesome time. Getting on stage and making everything up as you go seemed scary as hell, but why let fear lead?
That little whispering intuitive voice in my head was telling me to (and that voice is pretty damn smart).
Because being self-employed can be LONELY. AS. HELL. But it doesn’t have to be. Taking a class that allows you to interact with others and be silly is a brilliant remedy for self-employed blues.
Ultimately, I chose to take Improv at Push Comedy Theater because I thought it would be fun. Little did I know it would teach me all sorts of business lessons, too.
- Follow the fun. When you’re lost and not sure what to do next on stage, the rule of thumb is to follow the fun. And let’s be real, if you’re not enjoying your work, what’s the point of being self-employed? Figure out what would be the most fun and satisfying for you to help others, DO THAT, the money will follow.
- LISTEN! Hearing and listening are two VERY different things. When you’re creating scenes with other players, you have to actively listen to what your partner is saying. Imagine what you might create if you really listened to your clients. What would you be inspired to create if you were truly listening?
- Yes and… is the first thing you learn in Improv. When someone speaks to you on stage, you have to respond with “Yes, and…”. This sets the foundation for you to build off of what the other person said. Try this in real life– it leaves people (ahem, like your clients) feeling listened to and affirmed rather than negated. Fun fact: people who are listened to feel more valued and perceive the listener as more valuable.
- Stop controlling and be in control. To create an exceptional scene in Improv, you have to start as a blank slate. This means, if you step off the back line to enter a scene with the intention of being Farmer Brown, you have to be ready to drop that idea the second your partner calls you Mom. You have to be comfortable living in the unknown for a little while because ultimately, that’s what gives you the power to create an amazing scene (and life).
- Don’t be afraid to fail. Here’s the thing, not every scene you do is gonna be a hit. Does that mean you shouldn’t do it? Hell no. It’s ok to fail. It’s ok to be vulnerable. It’s ok if all of your ideas don’t work. The important thing is to get up and do it again. Keep putting yourself out there, keep taking chances. When you’re most vulnerable, when put it all out there regardless of the outcome, when you surrender to the vulnerability, that the real magic happens.
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