Improv is a personal art form, which means how you are feeling on a particular day can affect your performance. That is why I encourage my students to “speak their process,” so they can get in touch with how they are feeling.
Why is this important? Because emotions are energy, and if we are in touch with them we can play with them.
I keep re-learning this lesson, both as teacher and as a performer. At the end of the last day of my most recent Art of Slow Comedy Performance Level Class, a student pulled me aside, knowing our show was the following week and said that he was afraid and had terrible stage fright. I suggested he not be alone with it, and said the next week before the show he should tell the cast what he had just told me. That is what he did, and he ended up doing great in the show. He spoke his feelings and in the process, he freed himself up.
Now it was my turn to learn. The following night to perform in my own show, Improv Nerd, and right before the show I got into a stupid fight with my girlfriend because I was afraid to do the show that night, which I did not know at the time. I told my girlfriend I felt hurt and angry, and no matter how many times she said she was sorry, I could not let the feelings go. I did not want to do the show.