Where We Are Now Is Not Where We Began
I was driving on one of America’s worst highways yesterday at one of the worst times: The 405 North at rush hour in the South Coast corridor bleeding into Huntington Beach and Westminster.
This part of the 405 is a wall of traffic. It’s like driving in jello. Six lanes provide no relief. If anything, being surrounded by so many vehicles moving at a sun dials pace sets in existential dread.
You think to yourself, “Fuck this traffic, fuck this drive. Why am I doing this?”
What’s funny is for years I did this drive to learn improv.
Every Thursday night, I would drive from Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa to a coffee shop in Old World Village in Huntington Beach.
A group of us were hungry to do more improv than our once a week, 3-hour class at Orange Coast College.
We banded together and taught each other improv through instinct, experimentation, and ambition to be the best.
It’s like we all had this feeling of what good improv was, and what it could be, but we lacked the skill and experience to execute it.
Until then, we we’re going to have to just practice like hell and have patience with the process, and to have faith that one day we would be good.
We probably sucked. I don’t know? All we had was each other as our judges of taste.
However, we were in that stage of learning something called Unconscious Incompetence – we weren’t aware that we were bad (if we were at all? Probably).
We knew, Yes-And, don’t ask questions, don’t deny, and commit.
It’s like we were a bunch of cro-magnon cavemen with flint spears and a whiff of a nearby Woolly Mammoth – we were hungry and wanted to test ourselves.
We just played every short form game over and over because we liked them, unaware that every game reinforced some core improv concept.
New Choice taught you to listen, commit, and adapt.
Good, Bad, Worse taught you how to create a character and commit to living as them.
Countdown taught you to silence the voice in your head and just commit.
We didn’t know we were learning core skills, embedding them into our improv muscle memory. We were just having fun.
All the other stuff would come later –
wanting to start a team,
The slow drift into factions,
feeling insecure about yourself so you talk shit behind other people’s backs;
the petty power politics of the local improv scene and thinking you’re more important than you are;
The toxic improv groups nobody wants to leave because everyone is too chicken shit to talk openly about their feelings.
But good things we’re also waiting for us in the future:
Sold out shows to standing room only audiences,
Hanging out at Norms at midnight with your crew,
The endless parade of bits that made you feel connected to your teammates;
those breakthrough moments on stage where you bring the house down with a crazy character, genius support move, or heart felt monologue;
that moment outside after a show when you look at your friends and know you’re both thinking, “We did something amazing.” All that was in the future.
Right now, all we had was doing improv once a week at a random coffee shop in Huntington Beach.
It’s where we needed be.
It’s where we set the foundation for our future.
Cheers to all the friends front back then, and thanks to Amir the coffee shop owner for letting us play on his patio.
#improv #student #orangecounty #ocimprov