Improv is life. Life is improv.
(This stage is home of the future creepiest improv show ever.)
For the past month, my life has resembled an extended jam session with no one pulling lights.
The myriad players on my life’s stage have each been making some really awesome, bold moves that have cluttered my play space with work commitments, family commitments, social commitments, house keeping commitments, life goals to accomplish, weight to lose, a language to learn, instruments to play, and a blog post for my totally awesome team to write (that I hope they’re not mad at me for taking way too long to do).
In my early days as an improvisor I would often find myself in similarly crowded scenes, while a surge of players filled the stage with a beautiful mess of bold choices. It wasn’t unusual to share a stage with a ship captain with dicks for legs, piranhas morphing into murderous mer-people, a stranger who can only speak by quoting lyrics from the Rolling Stones’ golden age (1968 – 1972: Beggar’s Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile on Main St.), and, inevitably, Justin Bieber would be in the corner doing whatever the Bieber does.
As a young, insecure player, all those gifts would overwhelm me, and rather than trust in my impulse to be a rough cruise boat chef, I would float silently toward the back wall. From that unhelpful vantage point, I would watch the chaos on stage and just hope it somehow worked itself out. Sometimes it did. Sometimes it didn’t. Either way, my non-action didn’t help.
I recently found myself reacting the same way to the wondrous, chaotic life unfolding around me. Despite the fact that much of what was happening was extremely welcome, the sheer abundance of commitments was overwhelming. I crept quietly to the back wall of life and drowned out the noise with Dio era Black Sabbath.
While Dio wailed on and on about Heaven and Hell, I was getting even more overwhelmed and nothing was getting done. Around the 300th time Ronnie James Dio declared “It’s Heaven and Hell… Oh well”, I had an epiphany. Yeah, sure there’s a lot happening, but oh well. Deal with it.
So in the hypothetical, overcrowded improv scene described above, I finally decided to trust my chef character and fillet the captain’s dick legs. I then fed those once virile legs to the ravenous mer-people, who, naturally, developed a taste for human flesh and gobbled up Justin Bieber. Finally, I turned to the stranger with the odd speech impediment and said, “That was exciting!”
The stranger shook her head and replied “I can’t get no satisfaction!”
“You’re cured!” I exclaimed. “That song was recorded in 1965!”
End of scene.
Meanwhile, in real life, I have finally stepped away from the wall, trusted myself, and started doing things. I’m not going to claim everything is getting tied up beautifully, but stuff is happening and I am taking part in it.
When you’re in an improv show, it is always more fun to play than to watch. Life is the same way.
Until next time, end of scene.