As improvisors, the coin of uncertainty is the very currency in which we trade.
Whether you dream of hearing Don Pardo say your name every Saturday night or just want to improve your interpersonal relationships, improv classes are a great way to spend a ton of money on learning an art form that involves minimal rehearsal– and almost no outside dedication.
Here are 10 surefire signs that the $1,000+ you’ve already spent learning how best to create a work of art from the suggestion of “dildo” are definitely paying off.
1. You’ll Say “Yes” to Anything
Any improvisor who’s ever cracked a copy of Truth in Comedy knows the number one rule of improv is to always say yes, no matter what! “Should I pierce my nose?” “Yes!” “Will eating this entire Bloomin’ Onion help with my chronic indigestion?” “Yes!” “Anyone up for a scenic tour of all the areas in Baltimore featured on The Wire?” “Yes, AND I’ll bring my kids!”
2. You Don’t Ask Questions
Questions are a no-go in improvised scene work, and that means they’re a no-go with you! While this has made your day job waiting tables a little more difficult, you’ve found some great ways around it. Instead of, “What can I get for you folks today?” you say, “I’m going to bring you the chicken and you the steak.” Sure, it’s lead to a lot of comped meals and countless offended vegetarians, but you made a definitive statement, and that’s what counts!
3. You Warm Up Before Everything
Now that you’re a scholar of improvisation, you can’t even remember the days when you used to go into a meeting, have dinner, or even use the toilet without first doing a round of “Big Booty” or “Zip Zap Zop.” Improv warm-ups keep your mind sharp and are a great way to prepare for any scenario where you may have to make uncomfortable amounts of eye contact or pretend to throw an imaginary ball across the room.
4. You Begin Every Conversation by Asking for a Suggestion
It’s hard to believe there was a time when you used to just sit and converse with someone about their life, their hobbies, or their interests without first finding someone nearby to offer you a suggestion of anything at all (please). Conversations are much more fun and personally rewarding now that you can use them as opportunities to try out new material and work on your new improv form, “The Slowly Deteriorating Relationship.”
5. You No Longer Prepare for Anything
Be it a work presentation, graduate student exam, or even raw hamburger meat, your training has taught you that the best things happen when you don’t think too hard or do any prep work whatsoever. Showing up isn’t half the battle: it’s 90% of the battle (the other 10% is penis jokes).
6. You’ve Gained 10 Pounds in Beer
Why only have drinks after class when you can have them all the time?
7. You No Longer Need Earthly Possessions Because Your Object Work is So Good
Who needs to own “things” when your object work is so good, people could swear you were actually holding that coffee mug you had in that scene last week when you played “Moira MacFarlane, the Crazy Coffee-Drinking Boss”? It didn’t matter that you used your character’s hyperactive nature as an excuse to steamroll over every other actor in the scene– people believed that coffee cup.
8. Anytime Someone Touches You, You Leave the Room
TAGOUT! Time to stand in the back of the room for ten or so seconds, or until you have a halfway funny and totally un-thought-out idea that seems totally worth interrupting someone else mid-sentence for.
9. You Take Everything Personally
“Are you gonna eat that bagel?” “Why? Do you think I’m fat?!” “Did you get a haircut?” “I can’t believe you’d ask that after the week I’ve had!” “Did I get any mail today?” “I’M LEAVING YOU.” A good improvisor makes sure that whatever is said is important to them and impacts them on an emotional level, leaving everyone you interact with under the impression you’re schizophrenic!
10. You Do Everything For Free
Truly, improv is an art form so enthralling and rewarding for the performer that there is no need whatsoever for any form of financial compensation. You make sure to steer as far away as possible from the almighty dollar. This allows you to keep your mind solidly on your craft, which consists of deciding whether you want to eat regular or Cool Ranch Doritos, followed by eight straight hours of watching Netflix.
Daniel Strauss is an alum of the Second City touring company and performs at various theaters in the Chicago area. He also makes fun videos about video games that can be found at gamebroswebseries.com. Daniel is on Twitter @danielstrauss.