“You’ve signed up for an improv workshop today, so already I know something about you. You are fun, and you like to try new things.” This is how Tripp welcomed us. So, for anyone who needs clarity, I am fun.
The generosity of strangers.
It is pretty vulnerable to think on your feet, evoke emotion, and respond on the fly with no time to filter. You’ve got to trust that you can trust the people in the room. We were gracious in the giving, and bold in the receiving, as we made each other laugh. These people watched me doing insanely ridiculous things. And I let them.
Improv builds community. We were together for three hours, and if someone had walked into the theater after an hour of our workshop, they would have believed that we were an exclusive group who study improv and work together often. We were so comfortable, tossing our thoughts right out there, to succeed or fail. And if a line started to flop around like a dying fish, then someone else picked it right up and brought it to life.
Come along. This was Tripp’s first rule, and it was a great ground rule. This changes things as a leader of conversation, to openly say from the start, if we’re going to do this together, will you commit to do this with me? Because it’s pretty vulnerable to stand up here and lead. If you promise to follow, this whole thing will be better for both of us.
This is a No Judgment Zone. No judging others, and no judging yourself. I found it much more difficult to follow the second rule. I had so much grace for anyone else, but not as much for myself.
Acting is Awesome. My friend Joe and I acted a scene together, and this was our prep: “When you hear the buzzer, then you have to repeat the line you just said, but change one nuance in the sentence, and then let the scene change from there. Got it? You’re on a dance floor. Go.”
Just like that, the scene began. Joe and I dove right in, feeding off each other’s imaginations. I broke into my classic impromptu dance that’s kind of a ridiculous blend of square dancing and the running man. Joe asked me to dance.
“To this song?!” I asked, still doing my running man square dance.
“Yeah, maybe not to this song. Maybe another one. I really like to mostly watch at these things, anyway.”
I stopped dancing and joined him on the side of the ‘dance floor’ to people watch. “Look at that guy! That’s insane!”
“I think he’s going to do the splits – woah! He totally did!”
“In skinny jeans, no less!”
“In baggy jeans, no less!”
“In NO JEANS, no less! This is crazy!”
“No jeans?! Is this No Pants Night at the bar?”
(I was wearing a sundress.) “Well, I’m not wearing any pants, so clearly, yes, it is!”
Joe and I kicked it. I’m pretty sure if I ever see him on a dance floor or in an airport for the rest of our lives, we’ll give each other another fist bump and say, “Man, remember when we did that? That was great, wasn’t it?”
Creating is bonding. The people I met in this workshop became my community for the rest of the weekend. This is especially interesting because we all came into this room thinking, “oh, what the heck… sure. I’ll make a fool of myself. It’s not like I’ll ever see these people again.”
And then we were inseparable for the next three days. We sat together, ate together, spent all of our breaks together. We texted to find each other, wake each other, and to say good night. It was instant friendship because we all joined hands on that first day, and we jumped off a cliff together. And when you’re holding hands, then you sink or swim together.
(I think I might need to sign up for an improv class.)