Facing Fear – Improv in a Bar

I haven’t written a post in longer than I’d like but in the past month, as I work to overcome fear, I’ve been going out, doing more, meeting new people, and thrusting myself into new situations.

Just yesterday I performed improv in a bar with a group of friends from my Upright Citizens Brigade improv class. I had never performed in a bar before, and had performed in an improv show only once before about two years ago.

When they asked me to join them my initial reaction was AHHHH! Perform live in a bar? There will be (drunk uninhibited) people there watching us! But I barreled through the fear and said ‘yes why not?!’ After all, I’d get to perform! Performing is one of my absolute favorite things to do.

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As I got ready to head out to the venue last night I kept wondering how the night would go. Would the audience greet us as welcome entertainment or intruders on their night out? Would they enjoy our show or wish they were elsewhere? You know typical fearful thoughts.

I hadn’t eaten dinner yet so once I got there I wolfed down some fries and a glass of wine. My friends and I all played a verbal warm up game together. We’d pick someone in the group and name a category then they’d list the first five things that came to mind. I hadn’t played that game before but it was fun and helped loosen me up and get my mind churning. (I’m sure the glass of wine helped too.)

Then we went downstairs to the underground black box theatre. Two improv groups went before us and they each got about 15 minutes. I could tell the audience was an incredibly supportive one made up almost entirely of other improvisers, and that this was a safe space to play. As our time on stage got closer and closer my nerves started to flare up. I couldn’t BELIEVE what I was about to do. What we were about to do.

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Then it happened. The host called out our group name and we leapt out of our seats, high energy and willing to play. We asked for a one word suggestion from our audience to riff off of and then dove right in.

It was so fantastically fun! I’m proud of all of us because we left inhibition at the door, picked up on each others cues and built on each others ideas. It was improv as it should be – fun and alive and present.

I’m not saying we or I were perfect obviously and hopefully the more we practice the better we’ll get, but we were ON. We got a bunch of laughs too and claps after our individual scenes which is a rewarding feeling.

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I’m excited to perform with my friends in our class show this weekend and to keep exploring the world of improv. Pushing through my fear seems to frequently lead to reaching new heights of joy.

I also Instagrammed the story as it was happening so if you want to follow my adventures in real time follow me over there.

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