Basic at The Groundlings – Part 16 (The “Conclusion of This Series” Chapter)

September 14, 2012

I lived in my brain for a week.
(Photo Credit:

Last time, I left off knowing I was gonna get one more little chat with my teacher to try to figure out why I was so much worse in the second half of the session (semester).

I thought about that talk for the entire week. Do you know how many times you can run a 5-minute conversation over and over and over again in your head in the course of a week?

Many, many times.

My class had just ended. I didn’t start my new job until the following week. I had plenty of time to live in an imaginary land, and that’s exactly where I lived basically every moment of every day.

My brain was eating itself with doubts. “How did I convince someone to have so much faith in me by the midterm, just to convince them to lose all of it by the final? Ugh. He seemed so frustrated in the final. I seemed so frustrated. He hates me. I don’t deserve to improvise! Or interact with other humans, for that matter.”

This next part is super embarrassing, but I’m gonna tell you anyway. (Hopefully he’s not reading.)

Since the only thing I could think about was my talk with Kevin, I went on this little kick of watching a bunch of his old acting stuff – as if that would summon him or something, or reveal some kind of secret message through the TV about my failure.

(He’s not in this picture – but he is in that commercial.)

I had a large number of hours of terrified waiting, so i saw everything. Rules of Engagement? Saw it. ER? Oh, I saw it. Rozerem commercial? Yeah, I saw that too. I saw it all.

Finally, the day came when I kind of got my re-do on my final evaluation (for which I could never thank him enough).

I know it was a big favor that isn’t done very often. I know he definitely didn’t owe it to me. So it’s awesome that he’s a complete sweetheart. I was still all jumbled up, so that little redo was really helpful. I appreciated it a lot.

What was so funny about it was that you’d think after 140 hours of thinking, I could’ve come to some conclusions on my own. They made so much sense when he said them – of course he viewed the second half as weaker!

We got our midterms in class seven. We had a sub for class eight. There are only twelve classes. Of the four classes we had left, one was fateful Wednesday – meaning of those last four, one was a complete and total failure. Already, I’m down to a 75% success rate in the last four classes (since I get nothing for fateful Wednesday).  75% would be assuming I got 100% on the other three.

As far as the final scenes were concerned, he said they weren’t bad, but that he wanted more from me. He expected more. Guess what? He hadn’t abandoned all faith in me. I wasn’t a lost cause! I was the opposite of a lost cause – he’d set the bar higher for me.

Then he left me with some pretty magical advice. He said I needed “swagger.”

That’s when it clicked.

(Photo Credit:

Remember how I’d been told in my midterms both times I took Basic that I needed more confidence? I guess sometimes it was hard to find “confidence,” because I didn’t want to accidentally hit “conceited” or “controlling.” But there was something about “swagger” that I understood.

By giving me that one word, he changed everything.


I felt so magical the day “swagger” clicked that that was how I wanted to end the post. I wanted to believe that it would change everything. Maybe it did. Maybe it didn’t. Maybe we’ll find out if we ever talk about the Groundlings again.

I will always be thankful for Kevin’s class. It helped bring back some of that drive, passion, and craziness that I’d lost around the open-heart surgery recovery time. I’ll admit (even if it is embarrassing) I’m still not as crazy as I was in high school, but this class helped rev that crazy up a bit.

It also ended in really the best way I could’ve asked for. I didn’t know it at the time, but I needed that on-the-fence, “okay, I guess” type of acceptance. By getting a just barely pass, I didn’t take anything for granted. I definitely didn’t get too comfortable.

Plus, I got these great burning desires: A) Prove him right for sending me on. B) Prove him wrong for ever doubting me.

He gave me the perfect mix of push and support.

4 thoughts on “Basic at The Groundlings – Part 16 (The “Conclusion of This Series” Chapter)”

  1. Yo:

    I just wanted to say reading this storyline really helped me with my own bouts of self-doubt I’ve been having during my own improv journey. I feel I choked last night during my class at IO west, and that I’ve been watching my fellow classmates get better and better over these past few weeks, while I’m somehow letting everything fall apart. Since yesterday I’ve been, shall we say, going through a minor emotional breakdown, but reading about your experience in class really made me feel like I’m not completely worthless, and alone – so thank you. Researching what a Groundlings audition for Basic would be like led me to this blog (mine is tomorrow, and I’m still going to go), but after the Groundlings story cheered me up I checked out quite a few more entries. I just want to say you seem like an incredibly amazing, wonderful person, who is truly making the most out of life (how did you like doing the flying trapeze? Wow!). Anyway, your story helped lift me out of my funk, so thanks for sharing it, and just being totally rad in general. I wish you the very best.

    1. Hi Anonymous!

      Thanks so much for writing. I wish you would’ve shared your email address, I wanted to write you. 😛 Anyway, yeah, improv can be so tough and really can shine a light on all that self doubt – but I think it’s really awesome and wonderful that you’re sticking with it! Break a leg at your Groundlings audition. I’d love to hear how your time there goes, if you end up taking classes.

      Thank you for all the compliments! Flying trapeze was awesome. It was really tough, but great. And I recommend it as something to do anytime someone comes to visit, or doesn’t know what to do with a weekend. 🙂

    1. Hmmm… Not everyone shared their results. (Most people did. But you didn’t always know.) In one of my classes there were only a few, I wanna say maybe 3 of us? I specifically remember one wildly hilarious wonderful person who didn’t pass, ’cause it was thought they’d be stronger if they did it one more time (and it was a little shocking to the rest of us). But I’ve been in before when probably over 1/3 (but under 1/2) of the class gets in. A lot depends on your teacher and the level of people around you. Sometimes you end up in a class with a bunch of super talented people (many of whom have done improv before). Sorry, I know that’s not helpful. It gets way harder when you go to intermediate. The one time I took that, not a single person passed.

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