Day 20 : Improv

On a tiny stage in the basement of a local arts group, I sat on a chair. Looking at my scene partner, I was supposed to be saying anything, anything at all… and my mind was completely blank. Nothing. Zip. Nada. Empty.

Just a whole lot of uncomfortable silence.

The instructor of this class, one specifically put together for non-actor/non-comedy/non-performer people… pretty much just told me not to do that. You know… don’t let my complete and overwhelming social and/or performance anxiety shut down my brain. Thanks, that’s super helpful.

I admit, I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect from an improv class; but I realized early on that I really, really hate it. Like, a lot. And not just because I’m the worst improv artist there ever lived, but because I really don’t care about making up pointless little stories and following the myriad of made-up “rules” we were supposed to follow.

Even worse, the sin of all improv sins, is that I derived exactly zero pleasure in attempting to come up with funny little witticisms to wow and impress and prove my worth as a human to a room of total strangers. Yeah, I’d say that’s definitely a bad sign.

Since this was a class for people who are unlikely to ever pursue comedy, I was hoping for a little more emphasis on the mental aspects of performing, and how all this could be helpful in people’s everyday lives. Instead we got a bunch of ridiculous scenarios to play out, pretty much the same as I imagine every other improv class is run.

Seriously, just kill me. Kill me now. And take all of those people who are creepily infatuated with comedians down with me. Their lives are are even sadder than mine.

I will say “NO” whenever I damn well please. I will argue on stage. I will ask questions. I do not have to accept whatever it is you say I am. The world may be a stage, but that doesn’t mean I’m not the writer of my own production.

The bigger question here is: will I go back? This particular class is a bit of an anomaly in my 28-day experiment, in that it’s actually a 2-day class. Part two is next week, and I’d really hate to not show up simply because I’m an improv disaster. It is entirely possible I just need to give it another chance. On the other hand, there’s not much point in subjecting myself to something that I find little value in. Decisions, decisions, decisions…


To Whom it May Concern,

I accept the fact that I had to sacrifice a whole Thursday evening in improv class for whatever it was I did wrong in life. But I think you’re crazy to make me play contrived acting games in an imaginary effort to discover who I am. You see me as you want to see me… In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what I found out is that each one of us is a brain… and an athlete.. and a socially-anxious misanthrope… a politically minded, smug-as-hell know-it-all… a quiet wallflower hoping she won’t be noticed… a rule-following lemming… and a comedian desperate for attention.

Can I go home now?

Sincerely yours,

that woman who’s terrible at improv


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