The MOST DIFFICULT thing I have done in a VERY long time is taking the Improv Class I’m currently enrolled in.
The teacher, Greg Hoyt (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1701702/) is great, my classmates are wonderful and supportive… my “problem” is me.
My “natural way of being” is the EXACT OPPOSITE of what of what I think is expected in a good Improviser. I don’t “do voices”, I have an extremely limited emotional range (my wife says I’m really happy 99.9% of the time and really pissed off .1%), I don’t remember names well, (let alone lines, objectives, etc.). I don’t emote my emotions, I tend to be internal and not very expressive… all of these things are the exact opposite traits of a typical Improver.
Stay with me… I’m not beating myself up… I’m being honest. These are current realities.
I know there are many things that I’m incredibly good at… one is my ability to put myself into situations that really stretch me… and I love that. I live my life pretty fearlessly… I love that about me. I’m a great Santa and a good person… I get all of that and I like myself.
Here’s my point- I currently SUCK at Imrov. I’ve been seeing myself as being short on the raw materials that make for good Improv performers… because of this I often think thoughts like:
Why am I even taking this class?
You’re really good at your Santa thing, you don’t need to be doing this Improv stuff.
I don’t even want to act like a guy who finds conflict and exaggerates it, this is just not who I am. Etc., etc., etc.
In other words I’m “IN MY HEAD” thinking rather than being committed to being in the moment. I’m not just relaxed, reacting and having fun… Being “in my head” is taking away from my performance.
This is NOT a first for me… I have been self-conscious of many things over the years.
Here’s what I’ve discovered in the past, just re-remembered and am now applying to my current Improv situation…
It’s NOT what I’m lacking that is causing my angst… It’s what I’m thinking.
I’m thinking about my shortcomings because I have NOT clearly identified my “why”… the reason I’m doing this at all.
With a big enough, compelling enough, WHY… I ALWAYS find out how. I know that when my WHY is compelling enough I will find a way. I will build new strengths, find ways to benefits from my limitations and get maximum benefit and value from my core competencies. SO…
I have been consistently asking myself why? Why? Why? Why am I doing this? Why am I pursuing performing? Entertaining? Why is Improv important to me and my objectives?
For me knowing why I do what I do is essential. I MUST understand, feel good about and be compelled by WHY I’m doing what I’m doing in order to be “all in”.
So, WHY am I interested in performing?
I’m not… at least not directly. That has been the root of my angst!
I’m interested in having a positive impact. I’m interested in doing things in a big way while doing things that I like. I’m interested in doing things that invigorate me.
Getting on TV and possibly in the movies where I can have a positive impact in a huge way excites me. I get invigorated by the thought of making millions of people smile. Now with my WHY clearly defined I’m absolutely certain that my preparation (my improve classes, acting classes, etc.) will be MUCH easier, not because I’m better but because I’m all in and will do whatever it takes to gain the skills and leverage my assets in whatever ways necessary to be successful at this.
I’m confident the become more comfortable and confident with Improv will make me an even more extraordinary performer as Santa, and as other characters, and I know that this increases my odds of doing more, and doing what I do better so I can have a greater… more significant impact.
WHEW! Thank you for staying with me as I worked this out. (I hope you benefit from this but I did this exercise, writing all of this as a way for clarify MY thoughts.)
One final thing… the money is also important. VERY IMPORTANT!
I’m committed to earning a significant amount of money and this pursuit, acting, allows me the opportunity to do that. I’m NOT pursuing acting FOR the money… but I want to maximize the money I earn while doing this. Does that make sense?
Now that I have clarified this in my own mind I feel as if a weight has been lifted off of my chest… weird. I didn’t expect that.
One final thing.
I have also decided, in this moment, that I AM an artist.
Performing is an art. I have NEVER seen myself as an artist. I have friends who are artists, my wife is an artist. I have always admired artists of all kinds… but I didn’t identify with them. From this day forward I do. I AM AN ARTIST!