Improv 101 @ UCB: Fear Has No Place Here

Two months ago I signed up for Improv 101 at the Upright Citizens Brigade and had a total meltdown that I shared publicly. For the past 7 years it was the one thing I was too afraid to try. I tried a long-distance relationship, I tried yoga, I got a dog, I moved to NYC without a job. I did all these really crazy, scary things, but doing Improv still alluded me. I was afraid of it because of how public the failure can be. If you bomb, everyone is watching. Whereas if I, say, bombed my long-distance relationship, no one would have to witness the wreckage.

I considered going to less “competitive” schools, where I could just have fun and take the pressure off of trying for the first time. But then I met a stand-up comedian who told me that if I was going to do it, I might as well do it right. And that meant going to the best. That conversation happened on a Brooklyn rooftop almost 2 years ago and now here I am… a graduate of Improv 101!

101
Luis and I crushing a scene about our parents’ drawers.

Here’s a breakdown of what I THOUGHT would happen and what ACTUALLY happened:

  1. I had heard so many rumors that UCB Improv was super competitive and a little bit scary. This was not my experience at all! My teacher had no ego and my classmates, who started as strangers, became my biggest supporters. There is something so powerful about watching each other grow week after week. Any intimidation I felt was in my own head and it didn’t last long.
  2. I was a little worried to take classes on Friday nights. I thought about how tired I always was on Fridays and the chance that I could miss some super fun social activity with my friends. In fact, having class on Friday nights was the perfect way to round out my weeks and blow off steam without eating and drinking a bunch of crap. It also made my weekends feel longer. And absolutely no fun social things happened.
  3. I will bomb the show. I don’t know why I thought this, other than my low self-esteem and a couple bad scenes in class, but I didn’t bomb. Our audience was small and full of friends, they were supportive, and when I was on stage I felt like a totally different person. I was in the zone.
  4. I was worried that I would wind up hating it. It had the potential to be the worst experience of my life and then I would have nothing to look forward to–no great dream that I could keep thinking about. Improv had been my “someday.” Thank god I didn’t hate it. I loved it like I had always thought I would. And I’m going back for more at the end of summer. I should have trusted myself sooner.

I’ll end by saying this: do what it is that you want to do. Do it now. If you are constantly thinking about something, wondering, dreaming, or wishing about something, if you have a great FEAR tied to this thing… do it. There is a reason you can’t stop thinking about it.

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2 thoughts on “Improv 101 @ UCB: Fear Has No Place Here

  1. Hi, I’m Diego from the Rich 20 Something group. Improv is fantastic, and I would say that it is the opposite of competitive, it’s all about cooperation. I mainly do free improv (music), but I did take one course a few months ago on (theatrical) improvisation and it was a fantastic liberating experience. It didn’t totally cure my shyness, though it helped, and it mad me realize that being “on stage”, opening myself to others, and being generous is a very important aspect of life and of our relationships with the people around us.

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    1. Hi Diego! Thanks for stopping by to check out my blog! I agree, a lot of what I learned in class can be applied to life! I can’t wait to take another and continue my journey.

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