The first step to improvising on stage is facing your fears.
In Improv Comedy, you walk up with nothing and throughout the entire process, you’re walking in the dark. You make the leap just because you are inspired, not because it’s safe. Being safe has no place in improv. It’s the art form of saying yes, embracing the unexpected and stepping out of your comfort zone, because really, that’s where all the magic happens.
And yes, that is scary. It’s very scary and it’s difficult when you’re afraid of it going wrong.
I recently found a spoken word poem by Jon Jorgenson called “What Are You Afraid Of?”. It’s a beautiful and inspiring poem, but more than anything, it addresses an improviser’s number one obstacle: fear!
Fear pushes us back inside our comfort zone. It pushes us to say “no” and stay with the things we are familiar with, rather than exploring the scary unknown.
Keith Johnstone once said:
“People who say Yes are rewarded with the adventures they embark upon. People who say No are rewarded with the safety they attain.”
Which of the two rewards is the one you are really after?