Are you having fun?
If you are not having fun, seriously consider the possibility that you are a jerk.
I’ve created a handy quiz, like in a magazine, to help you figure out if you are the jerk.
|Click the picture to see full size.|
If improv isn’t fun, it probably has to do with judgment. You’re judging other players, judging yourself, or judging your coach. Judgment is antithetical to acceptance, to YesAnd.
If you are the jerk in the troupe, not only are you sabotaging yourself, but you’re making it hard for your friends to play with you and hard for your coach to direct you, and now nobody’s having fun. Just like you. So congratulations.
The solution to not having fun is to have fun. That means showing up — physically and emotionally — and playing with your fellow artistic geniuses. Having fun doesn’t mean everything will be easy, but who cares if it’s easy if you’re having fun?
For the sake of argument, let’s say I’m wrong about you being a jerk. It really is everybody else’s fault.
It does. not. matter. Have fun.
Even if everyone else really is better than you, have fun. If you’re having fun, your shortcomings won’t matter as much, and you’ll get better faster.
Even if one of your troupe members really is a black hole of comedy, have fun. If you support them anyway, you might be surprised. And even if you’re not surprised, this scene is over in three minutes, so who cares?
Even if your coach is asking you to exercise muscles you didn’t even know you had, have fun. Be sore later, but have fun now.
Even if you think your director is trying to ruin your life by turning your troupe into an extension of his own maniacal ego, have fun. And maybe consider firing him later, but don’t think about that during practice.
I know that middle column of the chart well because I’ve spent some time in all those white boxes leading to JERK. I know that 90% of that was my own fault. The other 10% was the fault of my coaches for not calling me out.
As for that lower left hand quadrant, I’ve written here about playing with depression and here about finding a troupe with a common goal. Do whatever it takes to have fun anyway until it’s time to walk away.
And there is a time to walk away. The good folks over at People and Chairs have an excellent post called On Coaches, Chemistry, and Finding Your Dream Team that talks about this. I recommend reading the full post, but the ending especially is gold (emphasis mine):
At some point, it will be time for you to leave: your team, your Coach, or the theatre company that trained you. This is a good thing.
When you do, try to do it with grace and respect.
That team who liked fast-paced shows while you prefer slowprov? Wish them the best as you both pursue your own interests.
That Coach who drilled you on game of the scene till you wanted to throw a chair? Be thankful for the skills they imparted, and for helping you define your own beliefs.
That theatre company that gave you a start? Say a silent “Shalom” and step aside to make room for some new up-and-comers.
Be grateful for each and every experience, then focus on doing more of what fulfills you. In life, as in the Harold, nothing is ever wasted.
Yes, there is time to walk away. Figure that out with your coaches, your teammates, and your journal outside of practice. During practice, have fun anyway.