In improv, as in life, you can conduct, but you can’t control


I was back in Austin before the start of the spring semester at UT and I wanted to meet up with my gal pal Jordan. So, we headed over to Austin Java with mouthfuls to gossip about. Side note about Jordan: she knows everyone in the whole world. So it was no surprise after the second we sat down, Jordan looked over at a table across the cafe and saw her old improv teacher from Merlin Works.

“Oh! That’s Kevin, my old improv teacher! You want to come say hi with me?”

“No, that’s fine. You go ahead!”

Not five minutes later I see Jordan and someone, I assumed to be Kevin (Miller, newly appointed Dean of Merlin Works), walking toward me. My assumption was correct. So, Jordan, Kevin, and I talked about the Austin improv community, what we were all up to, who had seen what, etc.

Another side note: Jordan and I are on the same college improv troupe at UT, so that is how I could keep up with this crazy improv talk.

Soon enough, the topic of Merlin Works came up and my interest in singing improv. To be fair, it was Jordan who made me talk about my love for singing and improv. So thanks, Jordan.

And if it hadn’t been for that chance meeting, Kevin would not have been able to tell me about the Improv Singing 101 class about to begin at Merlin Works. And that, my friends, would have been a grave mistake, because I have come to find out I freaking love singing improv! I learned so much from my first class alone. The lesson focused on conducting: how to conduct your scene partners and how to follow the conductor when you are in a scene. And, like many rules of improv, this lesson easily carried into my personal life.

First life lesson learned in Singing 101: No matter how hard you try, you cannot control what someone else does. You can try and succeed, but you can also try and not get the results you want. That is life. And that is improv. Which leads me to…

The Second Life Lesson learned in singing 101: IT IS OKAY TO FAIL. It is even encouraged. If you don’t fail it means that you did not try. And you are not going to sing a musical on the spot without trying.

If it hadn’t been for fate (but mostly Jordan) I would not have learned these two valuable life lessons.

About Faith Compton

I am a Junior at The University of Texas at Austin, majoring in radio, television and film. At UT, I am a member of the short-form improv troupe called Gigglepants. When I am not doing improv, I love creating short comedy sketches and just hanging out with my pals. I also love people, so let's be friends.

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