Saturday, October 1, 2011

Thoughts for Beginners

Many thoughts on the importance of failure swirl around in my head. A few weeks ago I read an article about the role of mistakes in the classroom. Then I read on Mental Floss a piece about successful folks who got fired from their jobs. I’ve had some experiences lately that were starting to get me down and it occurred to me that these can serve to help me learn and grow.

On Facebook yesterday the quote above was posted by a few friends. The quote is attributed to Ira Glass, host of This American Life. The quote will be getting re-posted here and over on the LindyGroove Technique Class Notes blog.

Let's apply the thinking here to improv. It was either Rachel Dratch or Tina Fey who said that most of the time in improv you spend sucking. Maybe 10 percent of the time hits the mark. I don't have the Second to None DVD handy so until it gets returned to me we can just guess about who said it.

After a recent Improv Trick student showcase, a student approached me and apologized for failing. Firstly, I didn't feel that the student had failed. Secondly, if by their own standard they had failed then at least they have a way to measure their success. Perhaps, if they're lucky their will to improve will be strengthened. To be quite fair though, sometimes the lesson has less to do with actual failure and more to do with how we deal with our fear of such.

As I had mentioned, I'd recently had some experiences that were getting me down. I won't elaborate on those here, but suffice it to consider that suckage happens. The best thing to do is get off your ass and do it again!

Here are some podcasts that address this notion:

Loserball - Jill Bernard teaches an exercise designed to help students embrace their failures. You can listen to her interviewed on the Improv Resource Center Podcast.
Zenprov - Marshall Stearns and Nancy Howland Walker built an entire podcast around the theme of failure: Failure and Space.

Bonus: since this post was about comedy and referenced Ira Glass, it might be well to link this interview. WTF - Marc Maron interviews Ira Glass

Now with video!

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