The Improv Life: What Kurt Vonnegut Taught Me About Giving Back

The Improv Life: What Kurt Vonnegut Taught Me About Giving Back

I think part of being an artist is to encourage other artists.

A lot of us start off feeling like insecure frauds who will be exposed as the imposters we are as soon as anyone of talent and taste looks at our work and deems it wanting.

The fear of sucking is real, and I’m sure it has caused tons of people to quit before they can see what they were capable of.

How do you get over this fear?

Years ago I was at Barnes and Noble in the non-fiction section when this weird book called to me. It was a collection of Kurt Vonnegut’s commencement speeches for college graduations.

It’s called: “If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?”

I sat down and read it. I was sucked in slowly by its positive messages, its calls to action for students to return home and share what they’ve learned with their local communities, and that by doing that they could have a bigger impact than trying to be a big shot among millions of big shots in the big city.

I read the passages when I needed to read them. I was at a weird place in my improv journey, and I wasn’t too sure what the hell I was doing big picture wise. But the book opened my eyes on the impact I could have here and now by sharing what I had learned about comedy in college with my local OC improv community.

I was lucky to have had the teachers and mentors I had along the way, but I understand that not everybody is going to have that. If I could be of help by just saying, “Great job, don’t quit,” that would be a lot. And if I could show them what I knew, even better.

You can give back by just being a positive presence in your community, or you can teach what you know if you feel it will help people. Basically, give back however you can with whatever you have. Kurt Vonnegut taught me that. Hope you all do the same.

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