There’s so much pressure in life to “do our best,” it’s only natural that some of that spills over into the world of make-’em-ups we call improv. But striving for perfection is a surefire way to suck the fun out of a scene. As Joe Bill says:
“Any consideration of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ will fuck you over and put you in your head. Onstage is not real life.”
Think about that: onstage is not real life. That gives us incredible licence to do whatever the hell we want.
One time in rehearsal my teammate, Justin Kosi, was pimped into being John Travolta. He looked at our coach, Tom Vest, and said “I don’t know him.” “That’s great!” Tom told him. “Just do your John Travolta.”
Of course, Justin’s Travolta was nothing like the “real” one – and a million times funnier as a result.
If you want to take pressure off yourself, try doing something really badly. You can do it in a circle as a warm-up, as well as in scenes.
Do the worst accent, the worst dance, the worst impression, the worst anything, and see if it isn’t the best.