I’m on a team that I think all the members are more experienced than me. Like these are people I’d be happy to just go watch do improv. Anyway, I often don’t contribute much to shows when I’m with them. I’m slow to initiate, my support feels a little unspecific, and in pattern games I don’t get many words in. In practice sessions, none of this is a problem. On other teams, I’m often the first one to start scenes and kick things off. I feel like I’m not good with this team. In short, am I broken?
Not at all. I was in the exact same situation when I played with Instant Cinema - look at that line-up of all-stars! Then imagine me, just starting out.
I can feel your pain, and hopefully this might help.
- It’s perfectly OK to be a less aggressive player. Sometimes people are like that. Just help the show whenever you see an opportunity. Side story: Seth Morris sat in with us once. He didn’t play a character, he never said a word of dialogue, he just did direction and support, and it made a huge difference to our show.
- Give yourself permission to be the worst person on the team. I say this in all seriousness. Dyna said someone on Feature Feature’s job was to screw up, and the others made it hilarious. I decided to take on that role, and it took off a lot of stress.
- Be aggressive with your idea! They can handle it. It’ll be OK.
- Similarly, when they initiate or whatever, just react. However you want that’s fun. It’ll be OK.
- You have a lot to learn from them, but they also have a lot to learn from you. Even if you’re unspecific and slow (and you’re probably being your own worst critic), they can learn by reacting specifically and quickly. You’re help each other become better improvisers.
You’re not broken. We won’t always perform at our best with every team. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing or we should quit.
A substantial part of my growth as an improviser is due to being the suckiest sucker on some pretty great teams in my youth (Asia-town had some big powerhouses in its early days, and I was just in Level 2). I had the freedom to be terrible and the show would still turn out good, and I learned something through osmosis.