We are told all the time in improv just have fun up there and everything will take care of itself.
But what if you don’t have fun in your real life?
Well, then you are screwed.
I am speaking from experience.
I cannot give something away that I don’t have. And when I try to fake fun on stage or in life, I look and sound fakey.
So what do you do if you are miserable and your life sucks?
Well, I can tell you if you want to do better improv, the problem may be that you aren’t having enough fun in your life.
I should know. I have been doing extensive research on this topic for over 40 years, and I have not made any progress until the last couple of years since we had my daughter Betsy.
Now that she’s a little over 2-and-a-half, that kid is at the age when she’s all about play. Everything is about having fun.
She wants to play tipping me over.
She wants me to call her Miss Hannigan (Carol Burnett’s character from the movie Annie) or Miss Hanna for short.
She wants to call me Daddy Warbucks (again from the movie Annie).
She wants her stuffed bear, Chloe, to not only change her stinky poopie, but look at it and smell it. (I have taught her she can’t touch or eat her stinky poopie, because that is what good dads do).
Brooms are guitars.
She makes up songs in the back of the car.
Everything is a game with no rules.
Everything is play.
What she is in life is what I would like to be on stage: She is free.
For me, I believe in the cliché, “Those who can’t, teach.” That takes nothing away from my teaching, I am great teacher who keeps getting better. But it is not lost on me that the reason I was attracted to improv in the first place is, unlike my daughter, I did not get to play as a kid. Yes, I am trying to get my childhood back and help others do the same. I just did it not think it would take being a father to get me there.
I’m not saying you have to have kids to have fun, but you do have to find ways to have fun in your life in order to bring fun to your improv. So, go bowling. Or plan a murder mystery party. Or sing in the car. Or use a British accent when you order your take-out. Just find a way to make yourself play, and you’ll be amazed how much more free you will feel in your improv.