This happens to me more than you'd think:
My Colleague: “I have to give a presentation at work, and I’m freaking out!“
Me: “You should try an improv class.”
My Colleague: “I have to stand over there now.”
I get it; for many people public speaking is the most terrifying activity on the planet (it’s like the Seinfeld joke...yadda, yadda, yadda).
And public speaking without a script? Forget it.
This is why I suggest my colleagues take a Philadelphia improv class.
(Why in Philadelphia? Because that’s where I live, but you can take them pretty much anywhere.)
Improv gets you out of your head, builds confidence, promotes risk taking and is a lot of fun.
Here are the 5 most common excuses I hear for not taking an improv class. Ironically, they are all really good reasons why you should take an improv class.
1. “I’m not funny enough.”
No one is expecting you to be Amy Poehler on the first day of class.
Amy Poehler wasn't Amy Poehler on the first day of class.
Go easy on yourself, learn to walk before you start sprinting.
You’ll learn the basic rule that improv is all about “Yes, And.” You accept and build. You listen to your scene partner and create something together. The “funny” comes from what you two create.
The best improvised scenes are when people are working together, not trying to one up each other with jokes.
2. “I'm not an outgoing person.”
Most people think that if they aren’t registering as an “extrovert” on the Myer-Briggs personality test, anything that involves human interaction is not for them.
Well the truth is, being an extrovert is not necessarily a criteria for improv comedy. Introverts are creative people as well.
What you will learn is how to use your personality type with your improv skills. I have seen many of my classmates actually change over the course of a class. Those who started out quiet and reserved start to take risks; they see the benefits of succeeding and failing. Some studies show that it is ambiverts (combining introvert and extrovert personalities) who tend to be the most creative.
3. “I have terrible stage fright.”
I’ll let you in on a little secret: I was one of those people.
When I started taking classes at CSz Philadelphia, the idea of standing in front of an audience made me sweat in places I won’t disclose publicly.
Now, I perform in a comedy show on a regular basis!
SCIENCE FACT: Research shows that repeated attempts of facing your fears teaches your brain not to be afraid.
Improv helps to overcome that fear through teamwork and support. Improv doesn’t exist in a bubble, it’s done with teams, instructors, and scene partners who are there to “yes, and” you, catch you when you fall, and coach you on your journey.
4. “I would mess up a lot.”
Yes, you will.
An improv class is the best place to make mistakes. It’s part of the process.
It’s part of EVERY learning process.
Mistakes are welcomed with open arms. Try something different and if it doesn’t work, then great, you learned something new!
FREE IMPROV TIP: embrace the mistakes. That's where the fun stuff comes from.
5. “Meh, I don’t feel like it.”
Having trouble feeling? No problem. Try an improv class! You’ll be feeling funny pretty quick.
If you have uttered any/all of these excuses, you are not alone. Lots of people have them. Including me.
Don’t let your lizard brain talk you out of something fun.
Lizards hate fun. It’s a fact. Why would you listen to fun-hating-reptiles?
Improv classes are a safe, judgment-free space where you can decompress, try new things, joke around with new friends, and learn a few life skills.
We’ll talk about those later.
Take the chance.
Make the mistake.
It may be one of the best things you’ll ever do.