Hi all. It's me. Andrea. The improv newbie.
Actually, I’ve been told I’m not allowed to call myself an “improv newbie” anymore. I officially completed my first public performance. People WILLINGLY paid to see me and my group do improv together. On a stage. I survived. I even kind of succeeded, by most measures, and especially if you use the measure I had identified for myself before I started on this whole crazy journey. This measure is best summarized in a flow chart, which I would make if I were better at graphic design, but basically it looks like this dichotomous key:
Query: “Am I having fun?”
If yes: I have succeeded!
If no: Try again, but be and have more fun.
I’m a little bit sad that I can’t play the “But-I’m-new-at-this-and-I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing” card when it comes to improv because I’m really good at playing that card. On the other hand, it feels pretty good to put on my big kid underwear and be able to say “Actually, I do kind of know what I’m doing and I can keep up with the big kids for at least a little while.” Because I did!
I had a lot of feelings in the days leading up to and after last week’s performance, and I want to describe them here. So here is a selected list of some of my most prominent and spell-able feelings, in chronological order.
3 days before showtime:
My friends and family keep asking me if I’m ready. No I’m not, thankyouverymuch. Why did I agree to do this, again? Why wasn’t I content with just doing my usual stuff, why did I have to pick up a whole new hobby? And even if I legitimately needed a new hobby, why wasn’t it sufficient to just keep meeting with the crew once a week in the church basement? Why did we decide that we wanted to put on a show for the whole damn town? I can’t remember whose idea that was, but I want to kick him.
10 minutes before showtime:
We are still behind stage, of course, but one of our crew members texted us to say that the ticket office ran out of tickets and they’re having to turn people away!! WHAT?!! How is that even possible? We are shocked, we are thrilled!
We do more warmups. Sam helps us get our Zen on by breathing and blanking. Nate helps us get our silly on by singing like the B-52s. James helps us get our characters on by launching us into “Five things.”
2 minutes before showtime:
We are offstage and we can hear the audience taking their seats. WHY IS SAM TALKING ABOUT HOW MUCH HE NEEDS TO GO PEE? ISN’T HE THE PROFESSIONAL HERE??
Minutes 1 thru 75 of showtime:
ADRENALINE-FUELED FLOW STATE
We run out onto the stage. The audience claps, and we jump right into “10 scenes about.” Someone from the audience suggests “octopus,” and off we go. It’s fun. The audience is laughing. I’m laughing. The paper-based numeration system that has been devised to help me with the counting is wreaking havoc, but that’s ok. We got this.
First hour post-show
I talk with some of my friends and family who stick around after the show. They give me hugs and flowers. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. So many friends came to watch, even though they had to pay babysitters, even though they had to give up some cozy couch time, even though they had to drive three hours just to get here (Special shout-out to Anne, who was a member of BOTH of the bicycle gangs I described in my previous post). A few of my students came, even though Thursday night is primo party night for College students. (Notice how I’m assuming improv and college-partying are mutually exclusive choices). I’m very grateful that so many people were willing to take a chance on my little group.
Second hour post-show
Girl’s gotta eat.
So, in summary: my emotional journey can be best described as:
Nervousness-> Excitement-> Panic-> Adrenaline-fueled flow state-> Grateful-> Hungry
I’ll take it!
P.S. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure the original idea to perform for the public was mine in the first place, so I’ll hold off on the kicking...for now.