Nonfatal Embarrassment

Improv

Image courtesy of Stew Dean. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Recently, I’ve been taking an improv class. When I tell people about this, it sometimes seems to strike them as slightly adventurous, which makes me laugh. I am anxious about many, many things in the world, but never has being on stage been one of them. Heights, my own failure, smalltalk? Yes. Stage? No.

So, when I graduated, I decided that I needed a hobby that wasn’t drinking beer or crying on cars (an actual search term that led someone to this blog today–hello, whoever you are!), I settled on two things that I already knew I liked: class, and theater. The fact that I am not a particularly good actor (and am by far a worse improvisor) was immaterial. I dropped a chunk of my paycheck, and got myself a slot at Dad’s Garage for the next eight weeks.

Three classes in, I can say that I’m pleased with my decision. I’m firmly in the bottom quartile of the class in terms of skill, but I’m trying to build adult skills like not wanting to vomit on my shoes in embarrassment every time I do something asinine. Improv class is great for building your realization that–to paraphrase Merlin Mann–if you screw up, it’s okay, because no one’s going to eat you.

I was telling all of this to two of my friends on Friday night in the middle of drinking a mid-range hefeweizen, when I looked up from my seat and nearly spat out my beer. Standing next to my booth was my improv teacher. This shouldn’t have come as a shock, given that we were maybe two miles from the theater where I am taking the class, but it was still unexpected.

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