Updated: Mar 30, 2019
Originally posted on ComedyOfChicago.com April 2015
Many people will come up to you at stand-up and improv shows and say "you're so brave, I could never do that". And if people are really drunk they will tell you how they super funny they are... and then cry and tell you their life story - but most people are in awe.
I think part of that is because people are not decisive. Unless you work in the ER, most jobs allow people to mull over their decisions on almost everything they do. As a society we have a hard time living in the moment and not caring about what people think. We are afraid of making the wrong decisions in every area of our lives. As a leasing agent in a high-rise, I watch successful people tour our very nice homes all day. Even the layouts "I don't like", are still gorgeous units most people would be thrilled to live in.
It's strange to see successful business people unable to make a decision about what unit to pick. I'm sure they must be making decisions at work, maybe a whole group does, but they must take part in those decisions at some point.
Improv and stand-up do not allow for such hesitating. You have a heckler interrupt your set - you have to react. And you have to be bold and firm in your decision.
Even if it was the wrong one. Say you flirted with someone in the audience to deflect the heckling, and then find out their boyfriend or girlfriend is sitting right next to them.
Wrong choice? Maybe. But you figure it out. I'm not saying potential home buyers shouldn't take time making a year long obligation...but coming back to look at the same studio four times doesn't need that much evaluating.
Real life people might benefit from a game of "zip zap zop" or performing their dick jokes in a mostly empty bar that refuses to shut the TVs off. In that moment us performers have to be able to abandon the set list and do whatever we need to get those four audience members on our side and trust we are worth listening to before we can do the set list.
Are some of us too impulsive? Yes. Do some of us need to focus on long term planning instead of just "letting it happen", well yes. BUT don't forget we possess the amazing ability to think on our feet and not let "failure" paralyze us. Even if you never become a professional comedian, you are learning skills that are important for you to learn for your lifelong blueprint regardless of career path.
Contributing Writer - Melissa Richelle Melissa is a comedian, writer and producer living/working in Chicago.