Trying to Not Be Cool
I have been a comedy dork for as long as I can remember — I used to wait up until 11:30pm every Saturday night to watch my favourite comedy queens, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Maya Rudoph. My love for comedy grew more and more as I got older, and manifested into writing really bad screen plays for a creative writing class, fawning over podcasts, and at one point in my life having the Twitter handle, @victoriasamberg.
To marry the idea of trying something new, my fixation with comedy, and my disgust for physical activity — I decided to sign up for an improv class at the Bad Dog Theatre in Toronto. Everyone I mentioned improv to, gave me the same horrified reaction e.g. “OMG! Why would you do that?” or “I would never! I’d feel so awkward!” etc. I thought I’d be fine, until I started driving and got those first day of camp butterflies. I had already paid the $5 fee online, so there was no turning back (seriously, no refunds).
Joined by a pretty full class — equipped with a dude nailing the “improv teacher look” in a hoodie and British accent — we played a bunch of cheesy name games, then got into some more acting exercises where you had to physically force yourself into the scene. Basically, the instructor introduces a situation and its characters, and you have to ‘tap’ in and play that character.
Assuming the palatable version of yourself is a lot less risky than looking like a dummy.
I knew that if I hated it, I had the option to just observe. I was very into the idea of being the chill one who just enjoys the acting of others. Similarly, I fall into this ‘wallflower role’ in everyday scenarios too e.g. at work, in personal relationships, and especially, at family events. But then, I realized I am paying FIVE DOLLARS for this one short hour! But more importantly, improvisation gets you into playing these strange roles and forces you to not care how ~cool~ you look. Being with a bunch of strangers who have no expectations of you, and taking initiative, felt weirdly amazing.
I can honestly say it was the most fun I have had in a really long time. Everyone was super nice, and they were just as scared as I was. Overall, I ate a crushed hot dog off the floor, gave self help advice, and proposed to a stranger all in one night. Pushing your limits really pays off and I highly recommend doing it, even if you do end up looking like a fool in the process.