Comedy Courses

Success Lesson from Improv Comedy

If there is one thing that holds people back, on stage or off, in business or in life, it is the fear of failure. Ideas from improv comedy can help…

If there is one thing that holds people back, on stage or off, in business or in life, it is the fear of failure. Improv comedy, as an art form, is full of the possibility of failure. Because of the unpredictable format, you never know what the audience will be like, what kinds of suggestions they will give, what your partners will say, or even what you will say. That much uncertainty is a very scary thing indeed. Some performers respond to this fear by not taking any chances. They fall back on old characters and routines or they try to guide the audience to give them suggestions they have done before (yes, I know that makes it “not improv,” but some people do it). The real power and exhilaration of improv comes from performers being in the moment and truly creating things on the spot. By staying in this narrow comfort zone, though, these types of performers take away the possibility of putting on a really great show.People who excel at improv realize that failure is a very real possibility, and they move ahead anyway. This is not to say that they like to fail. They don’t. But they accept the fact that it might happen and they move on anyway.The ability to do this, to take action in the face of fear and failure, is very powerful. On stage, it frees up the performer to try new things and create truly creative and innovative improvised scenes. Off stage, this ability allows you to put all of your attention and focus on the task at hand and take some chances.You may be wondering, “why take chances?” While it’s true that you can go through your life and career without ever trying anything new, it is equally true that without taking chances and trying new things, you can not grow or move forward. If everything in your life is exactly as you want it, then you might be able to get by without risking anything. For the rest of us, we need to face the possibility of failing. This becomes doubly important when you are trying to improvise with the unexpected. When a setback occurs, it immediately throws you out of balance. In this unbalanced state, fear and the possibility of failure rear their ugly head and throw you further out of whack and can even paralyze you into inaction. If you want to improvise effectively in these situations, you must accept the fact that yes, you may mess it all up, but you must take action anyway.Here are four steps to take action in the face of failure:First, put your fear in perspective. Ask yourself, “what is the worst that could happen if I fail at this?” and answer that question realistically. Don’t try to feel better by underestimating the risk, but don’t over exaggerate either.Second, ask yourself what would happen to you if the worst did come to pass. Would you survive? Would you get back up and keep going?Third, accept the fact that the worst may happen. Don’t expect it, just accept it as a real possibility. Resolve that if the worst does happen, you will be ok. (Tip: if this accepting doesn’t give you a sense of calm, then you haven’t truly accepted it yet, try again )Finally, now that you have thought it through Psychology Articles, take action and put all your efforts into not failing!

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