In the past few weeks, I’ve run into some practices and shows that made me wonder why one or more players in the room were doing improv at all.
While teaching a workshop with a team I didn’t know well, I asked them what about improv is most exciting to them, or what they most want to work on. I got dead-eyed stares in response. Maybe that was just shyness, but it made me want to ask, “If you don’t love this, why are you here? Why aren’t you picking up a part time job, or working on your grades, or going on dates? Why are you choosing to spend your time in this way if you’re not excited about it?”
And at an indie show I attended recently, a player (as themselves, not as a character) opened the performance with, “I really hate doing this kind of show.” Really? Then why are you asking us to watch you do this thing you hate? Why are you on stage if you don’t love it? If you’re not having fun, how dare you expect us to have fun watching you?
So I have created this quiz, a helpful flow chart entitled, “Should you quit improv?”
(For a related quiz, see also: How to Be a Jerk and Have No Fun. Also, if you have stopped enjoying things you usually enjoy, that’s a different thing; see: Depression and the Discipline of Just Showing Up.)
Most audiences will forgive anything as long as the players are having an enormous amount of fun on stage. If you don’t enjoy playing, why would they enjoy watching?
One of my favorite teachers and performers, TJ Jagadowski, answered the question, “When should a player quit improv?” for Whether the Weather:
“If you’re not enjoying it, you’re not into it, you’re not feeling some degree of passion for it, you’re not helping anybody. Not just you, you’re not helping the people you’re going to be playing with. If you don’t want to be here more than any other place in the world right now, then you should go to the place where you want to be more. Not only will it not be helpful, but it could be hurtful. …”
Jen Dziura would say, “If it isn’t extremely productive or extremely pleasurable, just stop.” I think that applies here.
(For more about the “Are you getting better?” box of the chart, stay tuned for part 2.)