Improv is terrifying, heart-breaking, and ulcer-inducing. It’s also incredible, and anyone can get something from doing it. I started taking improv classes because Tina Fey mentioned doing them in her book Bossypants, and I’m pretty much in love with her. Two years later I quit my marketing job to start doing something more improv-y with my life. I don’t know what it will do for you. I hope you keep your job.
Let’s say something compels you to start taking improv classes. Maybe you just want to meet new people or have fun or get a new skills or lose some of your crippling social anxiety. Maybe you just got moneys to spend. Whatever the reason, here are some of the things that might start happening to you once you start down your improv journey.
May the “Yes, and” be with you.
1. You will be less afraid of looking silly, putting yourself out there, speaking in front of other people and making the wrong choice.
All that practice in class of being a fool and allowing yourself to look foolish will pay off in real life as you stop treating yourself like a fool and then surprise, you don’t look like one anymore. You’ll also realize that most ideas are pretty good. They just need some honing, and they’re sure as heck better than no ideas.
2. Changes will not phase you. You will love rules a little less.
You’ll be able to roll with the punches. If you or someone else makes a mistake, you take it in stride and make it look like you meant to do it all along. If the guidelines for something aren’t clear, you make them up. You’ll be better at understanding what you need to do and seek less outside instruction and validation, because you’ll realize you are awesome.
3. You will be great at eye contact.
The human eye will no longer terrify you and instead will provide you valuable clues to the inside of the other person’s head. Body language clues will also become easier to notice and to read.
4. People will like you more.
As you say yes to other people’s ideas, they’ll start to like you because it feels good to be affirmed by other people. Then they’ll start to say yes to your ideas and there will be an out-of-control feel good feedback loop.
5. You will notice everything.
You might start imitating people on the sidewalk or see things in a new way. It might surprise you how much you didn’t notice up until now. This will give you hope that there is a lifetime’s worth of interestingness just waiting to be discovered outside your doorstep. Also, you’ll start seeing connections between disparate phenomena and it will trip you out.
6. You will get dates.
Just kidding. This is not guaranteed.
7. You will be better at listening.
Instead of waiting to say whatever you wanted to say next, you’ll actually listen to people as you have a conversation with them and respond to what they said, not to the thing that you wanted to say because it made you sound cool.
8. You will see the potential in everyone.
You’ll realize that you don’t have all the answers and that other viewpoints and backgrounds are invaluable for coming up with good ideas.
9. You will be funny.
Actually nope. You won’t be. But that’s okay, because you’ll be able to connect with people better, which is why you wanted to be funny anyways.
10. You will start to see improv everywhere.
You’ll see how what you learned in improv class actually applies to all of life. In fact, you’ll see that improv skills are life skills and it will BLOW YOUR MIND. And your friends will ask you to please stop talking about improv so much but you won’t be able to because you’ve seen the light and you’ll know that the light can help them too.
This could all be yours through improv, or lots of other things. So please, don’t feel like you need to be funny or smart or anything besides who you are to start doing improv. In fact, please don’t feel like you need to be anything besides who you are to do anything. Please.