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Improvisation can truly be done by anyone of any age. Little kids can develop their motor skills with marathon seshes of Red Ball, senior citizens can keep their minds sharp with marathon seshes of…Red Ball, and the hordes of 20-somethings in the improv community fill their days with minimal responsibility and marathon seshes of…Red Ball (Red Ball is really fun, you guys).
Nestled in this generational melting pot are the 30-somethings. They’ve got good jobs (i.e. salary and benefits), they floss on the regular and they love improv because it gives them a chance to get away from the crushing responsibilities and expectations the world places on their shoulders.
If you were born between 1976 and 1985, here is what to expect as an improviser over the age of thirty.
MOMS & DADS
Oh, you’ll play ’em. YOU WILL PLAY THE PARENT IN EVERY SCENE THAT REQUIRES A PARENT. Just because it’s been a long time since it was illegal for you to consume alcohol, you will automatically be called “Dad” or “Mom” every time you step into a scene that has to do with family. What’s worse, you’ll feel way more comfortable playing the parent than when you step out in a scene as a drunken teenager.
SPEAKING OF DRINKS…
You’ll really, really have to push yourself to go to after-practice drinks. It’s 10PM, you had a really good rehearsal and inevitably someone (who is 23 years old) will ask, “hey, let’s grab a drink?” You LIKE drinks – in fact, a nice glass of wine sounds really lovely after a long day. But it’s Tuesday. You’ll need to shut off the part of your brain that knows you’ll be destroyed tomorrow if you don’t get a good eight hours of sleep and go.grab.a.drink.
If you have to go to an evening class straight from work, the moment you walk in the door all your classmates will say, “Oooooooh, look who is faaaaaancy!” It’s true – compared to everyone else, you look pretty g.d. fancy, and that isn’t a bad thing. But the moment you have to crawl around on the floor like a gorilla and your scene partner whispers, “are you okay getting those pants dirty?” you’ll never forget a change of clothes again.
You’ll take a weekend intensive workshop, and on the first day someone in their sixties will walk through the door. You won’t get too excited…they could be the teacher? But then the teacher will arrive (younger than you, maybe) and you’ll be elated: SOMEONE IS OLDER THAN YOU! You silently vow that you will never make them the grandparent in ANY scene, respecting them as your elder and coming from a place of mutual understanding. You will then immediately initiate with “Oh, Grandma, I sure do miss Gramps these days.”
OLD IS THE NEW BLACK
They say everything old is new again, but there are still some references that, well… you just had to be there. You’ll absolutely drop an 80s reference in a scene and then be met with a “WTF DOES THAT MEAN?” look from your scene partner. So, don’t be surprised that no one picks up on your “Gee, I’m really sorry your mom blew up” line drop (Better off Dead, obvs), and instead just invite everyone in your ensemble over for a movie night. They’ll be impressed at how nice your place is and that you OWN IT.
Rebecca Fons is an improviser in Chicago. She performs with Deep Sea Swimwear and Terrible People. She turned 33 last week.