As you may have heard, I was in my first improv show on Friday. It was FANTASTIC! (Yes, an all caps worthy kind of performance.) I must admit, I am in complete and total awe of my classmates who got up there and created an amazingly fun and entertaining show along with the help of some super talented and supportive teachers, Shana and Ted.
But before we got to the show, I’ll tell you a little bit about the week leading up to it. You see, I was fairly calm. The kind of calm I normally don’t enjoy when faced with standing up in front of a crowd, but it was easy to come by since our class had a couple of very successful run-throughs of the show and I knew everything was going to turn out great (like it did, I’m kind of a modern Nostradamus – I’ll tell you my thoughts on “Hisser” and “the man in the blue turban” later).
My number one mistake: I went to get my hair done. You’d think that would be a fairly innocuous sort of activity pre-show – nope. Let’s just say that by the time I left the salon I had a complete meltdown – one that lasted a solid 3 1/2 days. All it took was a 2 hour “pep” talk about how “GIRRRRRLLL, you need Xanax, you’re going to freak out. Girl, do you want me to call some of my clients to see if I can get you some before the show?” TWO SOLID HOURS. And then there was the telling of the next client, “Beth is going to freak out, she needs Xanax.” I became an anxiety attack having wreck for the rest of the week up to an hour before the show. Fortunately, April stepped in for all of the major moments with pep talks and then some threats of, “I’m going to find your hairdresser and punch her in the face for this.” Cheered me right on up.
I also received several helpful notes of support the day of the performance. My favorite had to be from a friend who wrote and said something like, “Remember to think of the audience in their underwear. Well, not me because that would be weird. KK.” Another friend offered to coo soft hugs in my ear. Thanks guys, you made me laugh. Then there was one of April’s many that went along the lines of, “your doing well is like a big FU to all those people who said you couldn’t do it”. (The night of the show, I almost doodled that on my wrist as a reminder. The only thing that held me back was my sleeve length and not wishing to flash a nice “FU” to the audience should I turn my wrists out. Yes, I spared your eyes from some wrist vulgarity.)
We got to the theater, I briefly mentioned that I was freaking out to Shana and then we did our final warm-ups right before the show. Suddenly I was fine. Completely and totally fine – just like Shana and April promised I’d be. I got out on stage and I absolutely didn’t care that a sold out house was staring at me. I just smiled real big and did my thing.
One of the things I love about Shana and our other teachers, Aden and Ted, who have guided us along the way is they create a safe environment for you to explore and play. I can’t properly express what a huge deal that is. You can do a lot when you feel safe and having a supportive class along the way only bolsters you. Knowing that everyone around me wanted me to succeed kept me on that even keel.
Now truth be told, I was far from the best. In fact, I was easily the worst, but that wasn’t my personal goal. My goal was to just get out on stage, have fun and do it, which I did. There’s still some things that I’m kicking myself over, things I could have done a lot better, risks I could have taken and trust I should have placed that I wouldn’t be left swinging. but I think I’ve come a long way since that first 101 class.
Thanks to all my friends who came out in support. Your being there meant a lot to me. Thanks to Shana Merlin, the founder of the Merlin Works Institute and one helluva teacher and our other amazing instructors, Aden Kirschner (who reassured us that the next guy would be fine when we freaked out that she wouldn’t be with us in 301) and the next guy who it turned out was completely fine (and funny and just an all around awesome guy and fantastic teacher), Ted Rutherford.
But a huge thanks goes to my friend April. Over the years I have been extremely lucky; my friends have done a lot for me (all blog worthy; I’m just lazy – your personal “shout out” is coming). And April, you really went above and beyond on this one. I will never know how I completely convinced you to do this, but I’m so very grateful that you did. I have so much fun every Saturday and you made that possible. Thank you for taking these classes, for talking me through all the various meltdowns along the way and for being such a good friend (and for shelling out all that money). I really appreciate it! You are truly a rock star!
For those of you who weren’t able to make it Friday, here’s one of my favorite scenes from that night featuring Aaron and Jordan, two amazing guys who make me laugh every class.
Scenes from a Cup:
**Vulgarity Warning!!** This is the part where parents, parents of friends, my parent’s friends and anyone who is easily offended should just walk away with the warm fuzzy of my love for April’s improv gift to me and a smile after watching that clip. I just happen to have a need to say one final crass thing for the not easily offendable, it’s totally ok by me if you are – thus the warning, so you can bow out now.
April, you’re 100% right – my getting up there without a shred of fear was a huge “fuck you” to all the people who said I couldn’t do it; being on that stage and succeeding felt good. It’s a “fuck you” to all those people who forgot that I’ve performed to three balconies full of people at the Bass Concert Hall on several occasions while in the orchestra and who forgot that I tapped for years and performed in front of an audience – without fear. It’s a huge “fuck you” to the people who liked to say I couldn’t. Being reserved doesn’t always mean fearful. To the rest of you, your tremendous support and encouragement means the world to me – thanks for rallying around me whenever their careless words made me doubt myself. You’re truly the best friends a person could have.
Way to go, Beth! What a fun thing to do. I wish I could see what you (and April!) did…any chance there is video? I’ve ALWAYS admired your desire and motivation and follow through to get involved with fun activities with your friends. Oh, I really like to TALK about developing interests or hobbies but actually DOING them would require I get over WAY too many fears. Improv seems perfect for you because no one has ever made me laugh as hard as you.