If your Facebook newsfeed is anything like mine right now, it’s aggressively political. There’s a lot of stuff to be up in arms about right now. Politics, religion, celebrity “scandals,” doom, destruction etc. Maybe it’ll help for you to see a little baby duckling right now.
But in between reposting Mic and Atlantic posts, I bet you were thinking, “I wonder what Aviva is doing these days. I bet it’s something wacky.” And you’re a little right.
You may think the life of a freelance writer is all glamour and free sunglasses but sometimes it’s just days like today where I wake up, sit on a bench at Starbucks mentally willing a nearby tied-up dog to come closer so I could pet him, go to a Farmer’s Market for some overpriced chives and revise my resume for the 8th time this week.
But tomorrow is something new.
I signed up for improv classes at the Upright Citizens Brigade. Kind of impulsively I might add. My friend Aaron was telling me how he registered for sketch-writing classes and I should too. Sketch-writing was full but improv was not. I was kind of shocked that Amy Poehler’s comedy program in NYC just lets any random shmo in.
“Well, any shmo with 400 dollars,” Aaron pointed out. This 8 week course is not cheap.
“Eh, cheaper than grad school.” Because I had recently been looking at schools in the area and apparently NYU doesn’t let you get a PhD in James Franco. And even if they did it would be a cool 40 million dollars probably.
The last time I had done improv was in college, when a friend of mine, Shai, called me up on a Thursday night to see if I would do improv during the Hillel BBQ they were having for Israel Independence Day. I don’t know if he knew calling me 9ish on a Thursday night would be the best time to catch me, since I’d probably be right between pre-gaming and gaming, and would agree to any outlandish proposal.
And it was terrible. And i knew it would be terrible because the only time I did before this one was when I took an improv class in high school and was terrible, at 17 I was more Michael Cera and less Jack Black.
And in the glow of the campfire behind the Hillel, trying to think of topical things to make fun of in front of seven (probably lost) freshman, I painfully remembered, “Oh right. I am not good at this thing.” I think I might be good at this thing but I never really learned how to do it and until I do, people are going to keep throwing me into these situations and I will continue to look like a…a…some sort of animal but like, in the way of an oncoming car. Ah dammit! I can’t think of anything under this pressure!
Also, I lied when I said it was just the BBQ and high school that I was forced to do improv. My freshman year of UMD, I joined a drama troupe called Kreativity. Kreativity was created in the 1970s to give black drama theater students the ability to practice their craft when other groups were dominated by white students.
To be fair, I didn’t know this history until I was already accepted into the group. I only realized I was the only white person there when the head of the troupe yelled “You all made it in! Impromptu dance party!” and I thought “Why is everyone so much better at dancing than me…?”
We had a semester-end show and it was going fine until Thony announced to the sizable crowd, “Okay, now we’re gonna do some improv for you all!”
“But Thony, we never practiced improv!” I whispered in a panic.
“It’s OK! Improvise!” He answered cheerfully.
It wasn’t great. And according to the crazy-thick textbook UCB makes you buy for $25, there’s clearly more to this art than to just wing it. It’s actually the first line of the introduction chapter.
Either way, it’s something that scares me. It’s a vulnerability that I am stupidly throwing myself into. Getting good at improv is actually on my list of scary shit I have to do before I die. It’s up there with stand-up comedy, sky-diving and telling people that their babies are boring and not that cute. And if I want to pursue at least some sort of comedy writing in my future, this is a bullet I just have to mime biting.
And that is the skinny on me. Tune in tomorrow when I tell you how the first day goes!