It was my first class of Singing Improv 301 last week and something HUGE surfaced that I don’t think is hardly touched on enough in improv. After discussing the rules of Improv, doing a few exercises and discussing them, my classmate immediately raises her hand and asks “What about accepting praise as a rule?”. BOOM.
As students, signing up for improv is ballsy and showing up and exposing a very vulnerable side of you is nerve wrecking to say the least! With that being said, I think it’s normal to think that you’re not doing well or that “oops, sorry, I didn’t do that right” feeling is a necessary explanation after each improvised attempt (note improv rule: No apologies!). Improv, like most things, requires getting acclimated to your environment in order to get that sense of comfort. Not to say that the improv classroom isn’t a positive environment at all, but in a setting where were taught to not to fear to fail, why do we fear accepting praise?
According to the article titled How to Receive a Compliment Without Being Awkward About It by Jacqueline Whitmore (entrepreneur.com), “Many people downplay compliments to avoid the appearance of conceit. It’s so common that sociolinguists have categorized the three responses to a compliment: acceptance, deflection or rejection. Rather than humbly accept or outright reject the kind words, individuals often choose to deflect or dilute the compliment.”
Sounds like simple explanation. But I don’t think Jackie here is an improviser. Does she understand that I’m presenting myself in front of a group of strangers attempting to create hilarious, impromtu songs?! Truth, she probably gets it, but I can’t help but wonder why it is, that in a judgement free zone, we struggle with saying and meaning “Thank you.” I don’t really have any explanations myself other than that it’s just an environment you grow used to. It begins with building trust with your teachers and fellow classmates and then trusting that you really are doing something impressive when your learning to improvise. Perhaps bowing when we “fail” and when receiving praise would be a step towards normalizing it? Is their proper improv etiquette for something like this?
THANK YOU! Wink face.