Walk into an improv theater in this city and you’ll see improvisors supporting other improvisors. On an off night, at a smaller theater it’s not uncommon to have a crowd that’s 95% improvisors.
It’s actually crazy to see this level of support considering how busy most people are in this community. Between work, improv, and that new sketch show being worked on it leaves a lot of people with very little down time. Maybe we want to see our friends show because we think they’re funny, maybe we want to watch others so we can get better, or maybe we just like the atmosphere of the theatre. Either way it’s a supportive environment that is fantastic and I’m proud to be apart of it. Whenever I bring an outsider into the community they are instantly surprised by how supportive we are and how much fun we have with each other.
But you will also find jealousy and hate in this same community. It’s completely normal considering we’re competing for improv teams, sketch show spots, theater shows, and paid gigs. There is a ton of pressure to be good NOW and it’s really hard if you see all your friends succeeding and you feel like you’re going nowhere. It’s even more difficult to see someone who you think isn’t good doing better than you.
I’m guilty of this. It’s a natural human emotion and completely normal. It’s okay to feel that way sometimes and it’s not a problem. The problem arises when people use that feeling as an excuse. When I was new to the community I focused way too much on other people and realized that it was actually stopping me from becoming better. The success of another improvisor is not directly related to your performance. If you don’t make a team or your team gets cut don’t take it personally. Don’t hate that someone who you think sucks made a team and you didn’t. They have nothing to do with you. Focus on getting better and make it so the next time you try the auditors have no choice but to put you on a team. People don’t take spots from you, they earn them.
Personally I think making your own opportunities and focusing on making yourself better will stop you from worrying about other people. If your friend gets a great gig, but you don’t then continue to work hard and maybe one day they’ll be your connection into getting that same gig. Do I always follow this advice? No. I’m human and have stupid human emotions sometimes. I can honestly say that I try and personally I’m getting better because of it.