Jan 25, 2013

Improv, Revisited

So the last (and only) time I posted about improv in this space, I said:

It's a little irritating when you go into something thinking you're going to be great at it and you're just so-so.
Let me assure you that it's not a hell of a lot of fun to look back at a year and a half of working on something and feel about the same, or even feel that "so-so" might have been a generous self-assessment. 

I've done, by my very rough count, about 20-25 improv performances, and about 180 or so hours of classes, workshops, and practices in that time. A fair amount of work and, yet, generally speaking, I still wonder if I'm any good at this at all. 

I've worked with truly great coaches and teachers of the craft: Miles Stroth, Heather Campbell, Billy Merritt, Jeff Hawkins, et al. I've played with a great team of guys (Harvey Rocketship), all of whom I esteem greatly. 

And yet, after all that, I still don't know, when I'm out there, whether I'm inciting yawns or laughter. I know there are people who I think are pretty good who still strike out a lot, and I wonder uncomfortably about the math of that. I'm quite sure I'm not as good at this as X and here he is blowing it. If I blow it more often than he does in proportion to how good I think he is ... yeesh.

I think a lot of improv folks are probably reflecting on their progress over the last year and a half in the wake of Heather and Miles' unseating in the UCB Cagematch after 49 consecutive wins. It's a convenient era to measure against and, for anyone familiar with their work, it feels very significant.

Still, I did think I was going to be better at this than I feel, and I wish that feeling wasn't quite so familiar.


carole* said...

180 hours? The difference between the 101 class show and even a mediocre Harvey Rocketship night is worth that much and more. The difference between 101 and a good Rocketship night is priceless. The minute you start to feel this, is when complacency will set in and it will no longer be true. In the meantime, yeah, you're doing good.

JH said...

thanks for compliment (yes I'm vanity searching)

I get the feeling. I had it for a number of years.

The prescription: do something that amuses you. Not say something, not put a premise out there, but an action or dance or whatever that you find interesting, because if you're boring yourself, you're not doing it right.