The most important thing you can do as actor/improviser is to put yourself out there. Yeah, I know it’s scary. “What will be people think of me?” That part is not up to you, and it never will be. You are not in the results business, so there’s no sense worrying about it. What you need to do is focus on getting out there. That is where you will grow, that is where you will improve. With out doing that, it’s all just theory. Theory is great for late night conversations at the coffee shop with your friends, but it’s not so good for the career.
If you are an improviser and you’re bitching that you’re not on team, start one yourself. There’s a million bars looking for groups to perform almost ever night of the week. I can speak from my experience: The projects I have created out of thin air and made happen have always been the most gratifying.
The first time I learned the lesson that creating my own work was the best way to make things happen in my life was when I was 27 and I wrote a one-man show called “I’m 27, I Still Live At Home and Sell Office Supplies.” Since the story was my own, it really meant something to me, and the show took off like wildfire. It ran for more than a year and a half, and I got a lot of rave reviews in the local media. And through that, I realized my destiny was up to me.
I recently learned this lesson again with the launch of Improv Nerd. This isn’t something someone else hired me for: It’s something I’ve created, so I’m passionate about it and want it to succeed.
Unfortunately, this is a lesson I forget again and again, and when I start hoping that other people will validate me, I know I’ve forgotten to put myself out there.
So if you’re an actor who wants more on-camera work, how about doing a student film? Or how about working with a coach or taking a class? (Whenever I have taken a class, I always get more auditions. I think that’s me telling the universe that I’m ready for more.) If you have written a play, put it up for one night in your living room and invite your friends over. I don’t care, the point is to put it up and put it out there. Let the world know you are serious about it and see what comes back. You will be be pleasantly surprised.