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  • Writer's picturemarikenney

Improv and Finding My Lines

I discovered improv like many people my age, by watching the television show: "Whose line is it anyway?"

Growing up, I was mesmerized by Colin, Ryan, Wayne and the many other performers who had, in my mind, the almost godlike ability to react so effortlessly to the suggestions given to them by the audience.

I wanted to do that.

As a kid and even as an adult, I have issues with showing the "correct reaction" in conversations. I'm always in my head. I play with my hands or dig my nails into my palms, because I'm scared at how unprepared I am and afraid I'll say or do the wrong thing or show the wrong reaction. I usually come across as quiet or not that bright, because I can't tie down the necessary words to create a coherent statement because my mind is a ball of chaos and text.

In improv, I don't have that fear. I find myself, in the moment, reacting honestly to what is presented to me. There aren't any repercussions if I make the "wrong" reaction. The scene might suffer, yes, but ultimately, no real damage done, because the character is the one who made the "wrong" choice, not me.

For over ten years, I was involved in an improv troupe in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. One that had a revolving cast of some of the most talented, funniest individuals I had ever met. We became a dysfunctional family of laughter addicts.

While performing with this troupe, I noticed that my character shifted. I become more confident in conversations and less afraid, but then - Covid hit and improv stopped. For almost four years, I lived without improv. I felt empty. I felt lost. Improv had been the way I connected with the world and people around me for over ten years, and without it there, the fear crept back in.

When we moved last year, I was basically a ball of anxiety and fear, but then, my husband and I went to an improv jam at a local little theatre. We met a group of talented performers who loved what they did. They showed such joy on the stage. That joy was infectious.

Since then, I've started to rediscover those hidden skills I had honed and crafted throughout the many years we performed in Mississippi. All thanks to this new improv troupe.

I'm not going to lie and say I'm now a social butterfly who can have conversations with anyone she likes, I'm not there yet (or ever) - but I'm getting more comfortable in my own skin again. And I like that.

Anyway - here's an AI generated picture of Donald Duck selling pants at Kohls.

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