Improv Is Easy!

(Then why is it so hard?)

Posts tagged Nerves

14 notes


Hello! A couple of months ago, I was lucky enough to be placed on a house team at a theater. However, ever since getting on the team…I have not been happy with my work. I walk off stage going, “really? You’re SO. MUCH. BETTER. THAN. THAT.” The confidence and bold moves that I used to make seem to have disappeared - in exchange for nerves. I get it - now I’m doing stuff for an audience, not just a classroom, but I’m still me! What do suggest for getting that improv confidence back?

Whew, that’s rough. I’ve been there! It’s like you get on a house team and you think that’s the end of the journey and it’s all success and fun and accolades from now on… but it’s not. It’s just the beginning, and it’s usually like running through a gauntlet of doubt and stress and weirdness.
I wish there was a pill or something to immediately regain your improv confidence, but it’s never that easy. Still, here are a few suggestions…
Let go of your judgment. This might be tough, maybe impossible, but there’s no need to beat yourself up after shows. (We all do it, though.) You know how to perform in a class and in practice groups/indie teams; now you’re learning how to perform on a house team. Treat every performance as an experiment, a learning opportunity, and not a finished, perfect product. If you approach it that way, with the freedom to fail, onstage in front of an audience (scary, right?), it might take some pressure off.
Keep doing your thing. Meaning don’t let your voice get lost amidst these trying times. Your you-ness is what got you on a team, so keep at it! Do the scenes/shows you want to do, not the scenes/shows you think are “right.”
Talk to your team offstage. In almost every question I answer I say “Communication is key,” and there’s a reason for that. Let your teammates know how you’re feeling — odds are they’re having similar feelings. It’s helpful just acknowledging that you’re all in this together.
Listen to your team onstage. When you’re in a scene, do the scene your partner wants to do. Push in the same direction and make each other shine. This helped me a ton in the past.
Talk to your coach. It’s always good to make your coach aware of your situation, so they can help guide you out of it. (That’s part of what you pay them for.)
Focus on having fun. Seriously, just do scenes/shows you think are fun. I really think that’s the only way to do “good” improv, otherwise it lacks the spontaneity and magic that leaves us breathless. 
It’s not always an easy road (and it’s never-ending, to boot), and I hope some of this helps you get out of the rut and into the groove. Good luck!
Ask improv-is-easy a question!

Hello! A couple of months ago, I was lucky enough to be placed on a house team at a theater. However, ever since getting on the team…I have not been happy with my work. I walk off stage going, “really? You’re SO. MUCH. BETTER. THAN. THAT.” The confidence and bold moves that I used to make seem to have disappeared - in exchange for nerves. I get it - now I’m doing stuff for an audience, not just a classroom, but I’m still me! What do suggest for getting that improv confidence back?

Whew, that’s rough. I’ve been there! It’s like you get on a house team and you think that’s the end of the journey and it’s all success and fun and accolades from now on… but it’s not. It’s just the beginning, and it’s usually like running through a gauntlet of doubt and stress and weirdness.

I wish there was a pill or something to immediately regain your improv confidence, but it’s never that easy. Still, here are a few suggestions…

  • Let go of your judgment. This might be tough, maybe impossible, but there’s no need to beat yourself up after shows. (We all do it, though.) You know how to perform in a class and in practice groups/indie teams; now you’re learning how to perform on a house team. Treat every performance as an experiment, a learning opportunity, and not a finished, perfect product. If you approach it that way, with the freedom to fail, onstage in front of an audience (scary, right?), it might take some pressure off.
  • Keep doing your thing. Meaning don’t let your voice get lost amidst these trying times. Your you-ness is what got you on a team, so keep at it! Do the scenes/shows you want to do, not the scenes/shows you think are “right.”
  • Talk to your team offstage. In almost every question I answer I say “Communication is key,” and there’s a reason for that. Let your teammates know how you’re feeling — odds are they’re having similar feelings. It’s helpful just acknowledging that you’re all in this together.
  • Listen to your team onstage. When you’re in a scene, do the scene your partner wants to do. Push in the same direction and make each other shine. This helped me a ton in the past.
  • Talk to your coach. It’s always good to make your coach aware of your situation, so they can help guide you out of it. (That’s part of what you pay them for.)
  • Focus on having fun. Seriously, just do scenes/shows you think are fun. I really think that’s the only way to do “good” improv, otherwise it lacks the spontaneity and magic that leaves us breathless. 

It’s not always an easy road (and it’s never-ending, to boot), and I hope some of this helps you get out of the rut and into the groove. Good luck!

Ask improv-is-easy a question!

Filed under improv comedy stress house team confidence nerves

6 notes


johndeguzman asked improv-is-easy:





I still get nervous before rehearsals. Seriously. I understand I might always be nervous before a show, but a rehearsal? How do I stop this?




John! Thanks for writing!
It’s probably worth thinking about why you feel nervous before a rehearsal. What is it specifically that you’re nervous about?
It’s tough to write further without knowing your answer, but I’m gonna guess it’s something like wanting to do well in front of your team/coach, or a fear of performing poorly in front of them.
If that’s the case, overcoming those nerves involves trusting in yourself and in your team, and accepting that rehearsal is a safe place to experiment and (sometimes) fail.
Rehearsal aren’t tests where you have to prove yourself. They’re where you can challenge yourself and work on things… it’s practice,  after all, where you can build a group mind with your team.
Also, odds are everyone else is some degree of nervous, too, so you’re not alone.
Finally, it’s worth talking this over with the team, maybe over a drink or something. Communication is key!
I hope this helps! You sent this in some time ago (and I apologize for the delayed response), so hopefully you’ve made some headway on your own since then.
Ask improv-is-easy a question!
I still get nervous before rehearsals. Seriously. I understand I might always be nervous before a show, but a rehearsal? How do I stop this?

John! Thanks for writing!

It’s probably worth thinking about why you feel nervous before a rehearsal. What is it specifically that you’re nervous about?

It’s tough to write further without knowing your answer, but I’m gonna guess it’s something like wanting to do well in front of your team/coach, or a fear of performing poorly in front of them.

If that’s the case, overcoming those nerves involves trusting in yourself and in your team, and accepting that rehearsal is a safe place to experiment and (sometimes) fail.

Rehearsal aren’t tests where you have to prove yourself. They’re where you can challenge yourself and work on things… it’s practice,  after all, where you can build a group mind with your team.

Also, odds are everyone else is some degree of nervous, too, so you’re not alone.

Finally, it’s worth talking this over with the team, maybe over a drink or something. Communication is key!

I hope this helps! You sent this in some time ago (and I apologize for the delayed response), so hopefully you’ve made some headway on your own since then.

Ask improv-is-easy a question!

Filed under improv comedy nerves nervousness rehearsal

6 notes

I talked about pre-show nerves in this post from last month… a quick revisit (or a look at one of the reblogs) might be worthwhile.
A little fear is a good thing, but if you’re getting super sick/stressed all the time, that’s concerning.
Someone told me that when fighting nerves, the worst thing to do is be like “Don’t get nervous!” since that has the opposite effect. Instead, you could try and make yourself more anxious, maybe playing in on whatever it is you’re worried about (and digging for an answer to what that is, specifically, would be helpful). 
I do this with anxiety and it’s helped - it puts things in perspective for me - but your mileage may vary. If it makes things worse, don’t do it anymore.
Otherwise, I dunno… A lot of people get it into their head that performances are pass/fail opportunities, which really sucks. We get limited to trying to pass/not trying to fail, and that’s not what improv or comedy or art is about at all. It’s the process.
If you instead enter a show with the mindset of it being a chance to create and explore with your team (with the audience along for the ride), it changes things from, say, a test with right/wrong answers to an open canvas to paint on.
I hope some of this was helpful, but I think the cure will be unique to your situation. If we ever meet in person, we could talk about this for a while. Seriously.
Anyone else have any suggestions?

I talked about pre-show nerves in this post from last month… a quick revisit (or a look at one of the reblogs) might be worthwhile.

A little fear is a good thing, but if you’re getting super sick/stressed all the time, that’s concerning.

Someone told me that when fighting nerves, the worst thing to do is be like “Don’t get nervous!” since that has the opposite effect. Instead, you could try and make yourself more anxious, maybe playing in on whatever it is you’re worried about (and digging for an answer to what that is, specifically, would be helpful).

I do this with anxiety and it’s helped - it puts things in perspective for me - but your mileage may vary. If it makes things worse, don’t do it anymore.

Otherwise, I dunno… A lot of people get it into their head that performances are pass/fail opportunities, which really sucks. We get limited to trying to pass/not trying to fail, and that’s not what improv or comedy or art is about at all. It’s the process.

If you instead enter a show with the mindset of it being a chance to create and explore with your team (with the audience along for the ride), it changes things from, say, a test with right/wrong answers to an open canvas to paint on.

I hope some of this was helpful, but I think the cure will be unique to your situation. If we ever meet in person, we could talk about this for a while. Seriously.

Anyone else have any suggestions?

Filed under Improv Nerves Stress Comedy