In comedy, if you succeed you “kill.” I may sound pathological out of context, but killing is incredibly satisfying- even in a classroom setting. How do I know this? <insert hair toss visual here> I’m really funny. I’m not shy or humble about that aspect of my personality. I’m also honest, and take responsibility if something is a bomb. (Violence again!) If a sketch or a joke is dreadful, I will admit fault.
All that said, I did awesome at my first Second City class this term! Conservatory One is going to be a positive experience. Our class seems like a fun group- about eight people, different walks of life, and from various improv schools around town. Everyone was funny. Really funny. Our teacher hit a good balance of information and guidance. He didn’t give a whole lot of feedback, but what I got was positive.
When I do well in class I’m pleased with myself, (probably to a level that annoys my spouse) and I tend not to brush off compliments as many people do. Classmate: “That was so great!” Me: “Yeah it really was!” Sometimes folks are taken aback. As women we are supposed to deflect: “Oh I don’t know how that happened!” or “It was all my scene partner!” You won’t hear that kind of aw shucks-ing from me. Not my style.
Often performers unhappy with themselves will tell someone who approaches them afterwards to rave about the show that they are wrong, that what they saw was, in fact, terrible. We learned in our first Conservatory One class last week that this is a no-no. Telling someone who enjoyed your performance that they have lousy taste in comedy is impolite.
It’s a good reminder- accept compliments, people! Not just in comedy, but in life. Try it: the next compliment you get, just say “Thank you” and stop talking. You don’t need to qualify the “thank you.” If someone thinks your sweater is beautiful, that can just exist as a fact in the world without the person who liked it knowing that it’s not really DKNY, that it’s your roommate’s, and that you think it’s way too small.
The same goes for a performance. An audience member who congratulates you on a show you hated doesn’t need to know what you did wrong. They aren’t interested in how you’ll spend the next three days fixated on moments when you could have turned a different direction. And maybe, just maybe, you can hear the compliment and give yourself a break. Apply the“it’s 5:00pm somewhere” concept. A person can have a drink at 11:00am because it’s 5:00pm somewhere. Get back out there buddy, someone thought you were funny.
Breathe deeply, let that show go, and get back on stage another day. It was good enough for them, why dump all over yourself? Go have a martini. It’s 11:00am somewhere.