The Improv Life: Show Up Emotionally

Going to show up emotionally more and more in 2022.

Hiding Into Myself

The Improv Life: Showing Up Emotionally

One of my biggest flaws as a human is that I like to hide.

I’ll show up physically in a space, but I won’t show up emotionally.

And I’m pretty sure that’s the result of a traumatic childhood where I was forced to be in abusive spaces with no escape.

When you grow up like that, you learn to check out mentally and be present physically in order to get through an experience.

So I learned how to retreat into myself at a young age. And I’m still pretty good at it to this day.

Now it’s different though: I’m a leader and an artist, and showing up emotionally is part of the job.

For the most part I do, but every now and then, I don’t.

It’s usually because I’m tired (there’s definitely a relationship with physical energy and emotional energy).

Or maybe I got some stuff from personal life that is affecting my performance in these roles.

I mean, it can be a lot of things. Whatever the reason, people notice when you don’t show up emotionally. And they’ll get concerned, and want to help you (if you’re lucky).

The problem is this: emotions are contagious. The emotions you broadcast will be reflected back to you, and then be amplified collectively, affecting the emotional energy of the whole.

And me? I’m a walking power plant of emotion. I’ve always been that way. When I’m happy, people dig that and want more of it. When I’m angry, people get concerned.

Being a big guy also means that I have a bigger emotional broadcast signal – other people can tell how I feel.

Even when I think I’m hiding, I’m not; my emotional signal breaks through, and people want to find out what’s up.

I mean, we’re human. We evolved to read each other’s emotions. So much of being a human is being able to read someone emotionally and respond in a way that fits what you want out of that situation.

So why am I writing this? I’m trying to be more consistent in how I show up emotionally in 2022.

How am I going to do that though!? How am I going to meet this goal?

Here’s what I’m going to do to show up emotionally in 2022!

1). I’m going to monitor my physical energy and health. I’m going to take care of my body and get rest so that I have the physical energy required to show up in a space emotionally.

2). I’m going to check in with myself before I enter a space, and make sure I don’t bring in weird energy into a space that is really unresolved tension from some other aspect of my life.

Side note: Chad Damiani is really great on this. When you do one of his Catsby Workshops, part of the warmup is reminding yourself to show up 100% to the workshop and leave whatever baggage from the outside world behind.

3). I’m going to remind myself of the role that I’m entering a space in, and what expectations are put on me in this role, and how I can best deliver them.

4). I’m going to breath more. I’m going to have moments throughout the day where I just relax and do nothing. Being busy isn’t the same as being productive.

5). I’m going to remind myself that emotional energy is reflected back. Whatever I give will return to me. I’m going to be positive as much as I can.

6). I’m going to stay away from haters, energy vampires, toxic people, and people who don’t treat me with respect.

7). I’m going to say more. I’m not going to hold back. I’m going to share what I believe if I think it can help someone, even if it’s myself being forced to articulate an idea.

8). I’m going to say “No” when I need to. I’ve learned that showing up as a half version of yourself is risky, and that you don’t want to leave someone disappointed when they expected all of you to show up.

9). I’m not going to take life for granted. I’m going to appreciate every opportunity that comes my way, and recognize that every moment is special while fleeting.

10). Finally, I’m going to remind myself that when I show up emotionally I open up myself to receive more than I put in. Mutual vulnerability can lead to amazing things, and I can’t be afraid to take the first step.

There’s probably more I can do, but this seems like a good start.

#improv #clown #leadership #emotions #showup #performance #artist #writer #teacher #coach #life #theater #director #eq #emotions #leadership #emotionalintelligence #growth #feelings


The Improv Life: Be a Cool Person That People Want to Work with

The Improv Life: Be a Cool Person That People Want to Work with

I got one piece of advice that had been taught to me by experience and repeated by lots of my teachers: be a cool person. People want to work with people who bring a chill vibe. 

Basically, don’t be a dick, jerk, asshole; in general, a person people would prefer to not spend time with because of the energy you bring and the reputation that follows you.

Not that you have to be fun 24/7 (although that helps) but people have to feel safe to be themselves around you. If you got that, than collaboration will be a lot easier.

Also, it’s emotionally draining to have to deal with an asshole who might not be aware their an asshole.

Maybe asshole is too strong of a word. What I mean is someone who is not considerate of others, puts their needs first, judges others harshly, isn’t aware of how their energy and behavior can affect a social ecosystem – just someone people wouldn’t want to hang out with.

Okay, Fernando, enough! I know how not to be an asshole! How do I become a cool person?

That’s a good question! I don’t know?
I guess be nice, kind, considerate, giving, listen, be a friend, try to do good when you can, etc. I’m not saying you have to be some goody two shoes trying to save the world.

You just have to be someone people want to spend time with because of the energy you bring, the vibe you maintain, and the contributions you make.

And by the way: I’ve been an asshole too. I’m pretty sure I’ve turned people away from working with me because I was selfish, lacking empathy, asked for too much, didn’t trust enough, projected onto to people, came off insensitive, unsympathetic, and arrogant without realizing how I was making other people feel – I’ve made mistakes.

But I’m learning from every experience. I’m not trying to be a cool person because I want to be liked; I’m trying to be a cool person because I want to work with people who excite me creatively, and I want to see what we can bring into the world when we collaborate.

#improv #people #cool #networking #empathy #eq #emotionalintelligence #safe #mistakes #grow #comedy #producer


Emotional Intelligence Drop-In Class For Spectacles Improv on Friday, Feb.15th 2019


(A pic from my most recent Moonshot show. Pic by Jasper Sams.)

I had the pleasure of teaching the drop-in class for Spectacles Improv Engine in Fullerton, CA on Friday 02/16/19. The following is a summary of what happened, what I learned, and with some shout outs in the end. Enjoy! 

Why I Love Emotional Intelligence

Thanks to everyone who came to the drop-in focused on Emotional Intelligence! I’ll try to do a quick debrief here for the people who missed it but were interested in the workshop.

Basically, Emotional Intelligence (EI) is our ability to read another person’s emotional state while being aware of our own, and then responding and adjusting accordingly. There are better definitions out there, and this is one I made up specifically to be used for improv scenes.

EI is something we use every day in how we interact with each other and how we manage the relationships that are important to us. It’s a term you see used a lot in books and articles about corporate leadership and team work (stuff I love to read).

I realized that years of doing improv made me pretty good at reading people’s emotions and reacting to them in a way that wasn’t trying to change them or judge them, but to just accept them as they are and continue to interact from there.

Once I realized that connection — my love for studying EI and all the years of doing improv cultivating this skill in me — I decided that it would be something cool to teach, at least to try to teach!

The Workshop

We did some exercises that were focused on people reading each other’s emotions while having an interaction.

For example, we did one-line dinner scenes where every person could only say one line at a time and could only respond to the thing that was just said. Every line should impact you, stimulate your response, and from that interaction, we could figure out the dynamic of a relationship.

I side coached a lot to get people to not miss any big pieces of information that were dropped suddenly in the scene. I did it not because I was trying to steer the scene in a certain direction. Rather, I did it so that students learn to become aware of not letting any big piece of information go unnoticed — basically to learn to say “That’s interesting,” and explore from there, or call “Bullshit” and push the topic further if you’re watching Dingleberries play (every Monday night at the Pack Theater at 10:00pm).

At the end, I asked each participant what they could tell me about the other interaction based on how they experienced the scene. People came out with some deep awareness of the characters they were playing off of! We then reflected that you can create an interesting scene just by going one line at a time and constantly reading each other! It was a great day for learning!

Thank You & Shout Outs

A lot of this awareness of playing emotional while being aware and in response to my scene partner came from years of Specs training from Matthew Thomas, Samuel Forbes, Joey Shope, and Josh Nicols.

I know I would not be the improviser I am today without the dozens of drop-ins I did with these guys over the years — thank you.

In fact, you can catch the very last Specs drop-in Josh Nicols is teaching this Friday 02/22/19 from 12pm-2pm at Stages Theater. If you haven’t been to a drop-in in a while, you should check it out. If you have never studied with Josh before, this is your chance to see why he’s so great. Just come and experience it for yourself. Thanks for everything, Josh!

Also, there are shows happening at Specs tonight from 9pm to 11pm, and shows next weekend as well with the premier of IFL Season 5! I highly implore you to check it out! Also, I’ll let you all know when I’m teaching a drop-in again! Have a great Saturday!

— Fernando