Improvisation has taught so many so much, and every day I am grateful for the lessons I have learned as a result of improv training.
One of the lesson that I find to be most profound is the lesson of Fail and Fail BIG. In improv we are taught to change our thinking that a mistake is a bad thing and see it as an opportunity. Usually that little mistake in an improv show becomes comedy gold! It creates a moment that unites the audience with the performer and team that made the mistake, and provides a moment of real truth and comedy!
This lesson has made a huge impact on my life. Let me explain, see in a good improv, during a show, should a performer make a mistake, the other partners have thier back. Should you make a mistake they’re there to support and make you look good. In knowing that you are encouraged to commit 100 percent to the scene. In committing 100 percent, you still might fail, but at 100 percent you’re going to be failing BIG! The result = the audience will laugh.
I had been teaching a two week program in improv at a class at the Center for the Arts. The end result of the program would be a performance at ComedySportz Improv Theatre. The students where ready, and I had reminded them to commit 100 percent to each game, and really be present and there with each other. And of course remember if you should fail, FAIL BIG!!
One student during one game made a mistake and didn’t realize it until the audience laughed. Then he realized what he did. At that exact moment, when he realized he made a mistake, he could do one of two things. Get embarrassed, or play into the mistake and OWN IT. I watched with bated breath to see what he would do. To see if he would cower or stand tall, for at the moment the audience was actually laughing at him and not with him. Then, I saw a huge smile cross his face and a sparkle in his eyes. He got it! He really got it, he had just learned how to get the crowd to love him. To be himself, be real, be human, and then he played into the mistake, by simply looking at the audience, looking back at his fellow team members and repeating exactly what he said wrong this time on purpose and owning it. The audience went crazy with laughter, and the team united as they had won that round.
If you didn’t commit, if you halfheartedly fail, the audience will halfheartedly laugh. Actually they’ll pity laugh or pity applaud you. And no one wants that! This is a truth whether you’re performing in an improv show, playing in a sport, or working on a project.
So, the lesson is simple. Commit! 100 Percent! Succeed or Fail! And do it…BIG!!!