Pursuing a passion. Learning while having fun.
Although I’ve made it my business to share with others the benefits of improv for life, I decided to return to the ‘classroom’ and become an improv student once again.
A few months ago, when I was talking with my aunt about everything I was doing—all business and task-related projects—she looked me square in the face and asked, “But, what are you doing for fun?” My aunt, who is long since retired is an avid painter, would send her beautiful pieces of art in Christmas card form. And, her home is like an art gallery of her exquisite works of art.
I tentatively replied, “Well, what I do in my business IS fun. Even as I replied to her, I was trying to think of the last time I did something for the sole purpose of having fun. Yes, I have fun with my clients. Yes, I have fun when I am conducting improv workshops for businesses.
But, what do I do for fun…and just for me?
It’s quite a wake-up call when I am making it my life’s work to teach others how to infuse humor, laughter, and improvisation into all aspects of their lives and, yet, I had a hard time answering the question, “But, what are you doing for fun?”
I challenge you to ask yourself the same question.
Over the next few days, I seriously pondered my aunt’s question…“But, what are you doing for fun?”
For years I’ve wanted to get back into drawing and painting. When I used to draw fairly often, I would get so lost in what I was doing that I would be oblivious to the world around me. So much so, that I wouldn’t notice that the sun had gone down. It’s a wonderful feeling to be lost in my own, creative world where I am simply creating, enjoying, and being.
So, I signed up for an improv class! Since the beginning of April, I’ve had the pleasure of honing my improv skills and learning so much more in Jimmy Carrane’s “The Slow Art of Improv Comedy” (Taught at Green Shirt Studio in Chicago.)
Even as a graduate of The Second City improv conservatory program and an improv workshop facilitator, I kept my mind open to what I would learn.
What Jimmy Carrane’s class taught me:
- To take my time in a scene. I don’t have to force a scene or try to prove that I belong there. As Jimmy would say to the class, “You’re doing great. You are”
- I don’t have to try to be funny. The funny will evolve. And, if the scene isn’t funny, that is ok, too. Even though my business name and motto are “Find The Funny,” I still needed to be reminded that I don’t need to make something funny in order for it—or me—to be OK.
I learned for myself what I teach others
What is ironically fascinating to me is that I teach these same rules to live by in my workshops yet, as a student, I realized I needed to learn those rules for myself and my own life.
I also learned to trust—another component I teach in my workshops. The eye opening element to that rule is I have to be able to trust those in my troupe. Trust is demonstrated as a two-way street. If you show me you are trustworthy, then I will trust you. And, that you have my back. And, if I show that I trust you, you will be there for me.
I was extremely fortunate to have been in a class with other improvisors who allowed their minds and creativity to be molded to the group. I have thanked them and have called them my improv safety net.
I ask you to ask yourself these questions…
“What are you doing for fun?”
“What brings you joy?”
If you have trouble answering this question like I did initially, tap into that inner joy that is waiting for you and go do what makes you happy: an art class, a bike ride, writing poetry…
Whatever it is that brings you joy; honor yourself by doing just that.
About the author: Julie Ostrow is the Humor, Laughter, and Improv Coach and is the First-Ever American Laughing Champion. She coaches groups and corporations how to use humor, laughter, and improv techniques to improv communication, connection, creativity, and collaboration. www.GoFindTheFunny.com
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