Basic at The Groundlings – Part 5 (The “Expanding on Some Thoughts from My First Time Through” Chapter)

August 13, 2012

Since you’ve all been clamoring for more improv tales – (This is both sarcastic and genuine. Some of you come here to hear about running, and really don’t care about improv. Some of you want to hear about it – my previous improv posts have been surprisingly popular.)) – I’m happy to oblige.

Picking up from last time

I was talking about my final evaluation from Jordan, and how he still believed I had potential – even though I deteriorated so hard (so very, very hard) in the second half of the semester. To him, I’m sure that evaluation was same old, same old. (He has hundreds of students.) To me, it made me believe that something was possible – something I would’ve never thought otherwise.

“That’s impossible!” No it’s not, Luke. Anything is possible.

Of course I’m gonna call myself out for saying that. When people make sweeping statements such as “never in my wildest dreams,” or “I never thought that would be possible” – I think, “Don’t you have an imagination? Your dreams and possibilities should be vast – endless, in fact. What a ridiculous thing to say.”

Well, Aurora, I do have a vast imagination. But not one that could’ve ever thought I could move forward at the Groundlings.

(You may underestimate how horrible (awful, horrendous, appalling) I was when I started improv.)

I don’t want to oversell how much this final evaluation day (driven/dreamy head snap, way over-the-top with huge musical-theater-eyes and grand gestures) changed everything in my world.

There are some changes in life that are huge, and some that are quite small. My change from Jordan’s class wasn’t humongous, but it has already influenced me a fair amount – you never know when 5 minutes will change a year.

You know the deal with Newton’s 3 laws of motion (paraphrasing law #1) – an object in motion stays in motion. I know an idea is not an object, but this is figurative. Jordan gave me a much needed nudge that put me in motion at the Groundlings. (If you want to try to work in the gist of the 2nd law of motion, it usually seems that the more I get pushed there, the more powerfully I go.)

I’m so glad I had someone tell me not to quit when I needed it the most. I like to think I’m not a quitter (although the facts in the story we heard in part 4 – when, for all intents and purposes, I quit after one bad class – beg to differ). Even in this world where I believe that I’m maybe not a quitter, improv doesn’t live there.

At least I didn’t think it did. Why belabor this ridiculous hobby that I started without any expectations (negative expectations) in the first place? There’s a difference between keeping at something you can excel in, and chasing after a completely lost cause, right? Maybe? Maybe not. I suppose blind faith might be an important ingredient in achieving great, fun, new, and different things.

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So, maybe I can improv? What a weird sentence to type. You should’ve seen my struggle in high school when we had to improv – which thank goodness was not often. To say I was the worst improviser on probably the planet is to put it mildly.

I vaguely remember this one scene – part of my leg was eaten by a shark. And I remember standing onstage hobbling incredibly awkwardly, thinking “What do I do, here?!” Well, Aurora, if a shark took your leg below your knee, maybe you should fall over, or be in pain, or cry, or something! Nope, no. How about you just stand onstage, balancing on one leg, looking like a deer in the headlights. Yeah, good job.

You may ask yourself, “How is it possible that she is so unbelievably awful at improv when she wants to write for a living, and she loves acting (and seems like she can hold her own on stage)? Conceivably those things should meld together quite well into an improviser.” Well, yes. Conceivably they should. That’s a great point you bring up. I don’t know what to tell you.

I guess those things are beginning to come together (maybe), so we’ll see what happens.

I ran into Jordan months after his class at the grocery store. He was just as kind as ever. He asked if I was back in Basic. I wasn’t. He stressed again that I should really jump back in and retake it. I ended up signing up for a class in May/June. Life is for living, right? (Or waiting 3/4 of a year and then living.)

I was hoping that maybe, just maybe, I’d get Jordan again. I had things to prove, and couldn’t imagine a better improv teacher.

Then I got Kevin.

– which is where I’ll pick up next time.

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