Somewhere around third or fourth session of the beginner’s improv class I teach at The Unified Scene Theater, a brick-and-mortar improv space located in the Bloomingdale Neighborhood of Washington, DC, I make the entire class stand up, raise their hands, and yell, as loud as they can “I FAILED! I FAILED AT IMPROV! I FAILED AT MAKING CRAP UP! HOORAY!”
Because, I tell them, they will. Failure is built into this medium. Not everything is perfect the first time out. Even seasoned veterans have bad shows. The now syndicated show “Whose Line Is It, Anyway?” airs for 22 minutes. But how long did it take to record the shows for the producer and directors to cherry-pick those segments? Hours. Why? Because not everything works. People who have shared the stage for decades sometimes have miscues, moments that don’t always result in brilliance and magic. It’s the nature of the beast. The trick is to get back on the horse and try again. And again, and again.