No Judgment

To have fun on stage, leave your inner critic at the door

To many people, our first improv class is an incredibly fun experience. What an amazing way to connect with other people, to play as an adult, to imagine and create! We pull things from a hat, we pretend to be animals, we yell ‘Yes, Lets!’ at the top of our lungs.

Two improvisers reenact a scene cut  a short form game
Mariah, Stefan, Jess & Ayla act out a scene cut from 'Star Wars' at Kismet's Friday Night Frenzy

We take another class, then another. We learn how to share the stage, to make offers, to edit each other. Suddenly, we are putting together 20 minute sets in front of a teacher. Then we graduate and perform in front of a real audience!

At that moment, often, the fun disappears. We start questioning our moves. ‘Should I have said that? ‘ We begin to judge others in the group, and get down about the team. ‘Maybe we’re not any good. Maybe I’m not any good!’

It’s not fun when we feel so much pressure to make the audience laugh, that we feel little drips of flop sweat trickling down our forehead. It’s not fun when we put something out there, and a teammate doesn’t pick it up, so we’re left holding the bag. It’s not fun when we meet our friends after the show, and are convinced they were disappointed.

It’s not fun when we judge each other. It’s especially not fun when we judge ourselves.

Why do we judge? Because it’s the way to be a person in the world. If we want to get a job, we have to look critically at our resume. If we manage people, we have to assess their work and how well we are treating them. If we raise children, we have to lay down hard lines and worry if we're making the right choices. Even when we pick a TV show to watch, we have to decide— is this going to be any good?

We end up judging everyone else. Should they be eating that? Should they be driving that? Is that a good school? It’s exhausting.

Improv can be a respite from all that. It’s a place for us to shake off all that judgement, get rid of crusty old thoughts and come up with brand new shiny ones. It’s a time for us to embrace everything about the world, rather than sort it into good and bad.

It’s the time to imagine what being our neighbor is like, instead of worrying about how long he leaves his garbage cans out. It’s a time to play a world-class chef, rather than worry about how we've made pasta three nights this week. It’s a time to be a kid having fun in gym class, rather than worry about the many ways they could get injured.

Paradoxically, it’s the time not to worry about the good time others are having- it’s the time to have a good time!

People come to improv shows to watch other people have fun. Going to an improv show is like dialing up the joy they felt that one night they stayed over with their best friends, and they all played charades. It’s a chance to let loose of all that worries them and makes them feel bad, and instead stow away a memorable scene or funny line that they can recall years later, and even share with a friend who came that night. Think about the best improv shows you’ve ever seen, there’s probably a moment you’ll randomly recall and smile at as you’re driving to pick up more toothpaste.

That’s what we’re hoping to create at Kismet. We want every night to be a magical night of fun for everyone.

And even if some nights, we fall short? That’s ok. No judgment.

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