Finding People Who Can See Your Worth

I was so stupid when I starting out improvising in my 20s.

I really didn’t think I needed people. My goal was to “make it” all by myself. I laugh now thinking about it. I chose an art form that requires you to depend on other people, yet I was committed to making it all alone. So stupid. It only took me 25 years to realize I was wrong.

Last week I went on an audition for a part in a TV show. I love going into this casting agency. I have been auditioning there for years so they know my work and my personality. After the first read, the casting agent said, “Throw away the script.”

They not only know I can improvise, but they know I don’t trust myself. I can be a perfectionist, a good boy, wanting to get all of the words right that are on the page. I put more faith in my having my face buried in the script than in my own skill and instincts. This never leads to getting cast, but it feels safe.

They asked me to do it again without the script. I crumbled the script up and threw it on the floor and did it again. It went great!

Then the casting director said, “I have more confidence in you than you do in yourself.” And she was right.

When she said that, I thought about how it’s the same with my students. I typically have more confidence in their abilities than they do. I see it on a weekly basis even if they don’t. The best part is when students will see something great in each other as well and will say it to their fellow student. A compliment from the teacher is good, but a compliment from one of their peers is great.

That’s why we need other people, because they can see our worth when we can’t. Most of the time we’re blind to our own talents and we want to give up, but when we’re supported by other people, they can encourage us to keep going.

I don’t think the casting director even understood the impact she had on me. Sometimes all it takes is for someone to say that they have confidence in you to start building confidence in yourself.

So if you want to start feeling better about yourself and your talents, seek out a supportive group of friends and mentors. Yes, there are lot of needy and egotistical people in improv, acting and the arts in general, but there are also some great teachers, directors, agents, casting directors and friends who are going to see your worth before you can see it in yourself. And to succeed, you’re going to need these people.

Are you an experienced improviser? Come get personalized feedback in Jimmy’s Art of Slow Comedy Level 3 class, starting Sept. 5!