Improv Comedy Class - Social Anxiety Forum

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post #1 of 36 (permalink) Old 02-26-2010, 01:18 PM Thread Starter
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Improv Comedy Class


Improvisation is the practice of talking, acting, and singing, in the moment in response to the other actors and the environment. In other words, you make it up as you go along.

More Info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Improvisation
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post #2 of 36 (permalink) Old 02-26-2010, 01:30 PM
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Improv teaches you to "let go"


Social Anxiety Background
Social anxiety has affected me since I was in elementary school. While it was triggered initially by a traumatic experience, it is something that runs in the family and I certainly had a predisposition for. Some examples of how it manifested itself over the years: avoiding certain types of social situations and friends, avoiding public speaking, avoiding the opposite sex completely, hiding in the library during lunch, the thought of just walking down certain hallways at my highschool terrified me, fear of being around large groups of people, fear and avoidance of going to parties or social gatherings, etc. My social anxiety started to get severe when I dropped out of college after one quarter because of my social anxiety. That's when I started to get uncomfortable just leaving my apartment and hit "the bottom" so to speak. Through treatment with group cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming (EMDR) for mild Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and medication I've been able to live the balanced life that I value and form healthy friendships and relationships.

Other Treatments
Toastmasters is similar. You have the opportunity to speak publically and also participate in "table topics", which is a form of improv where you speak about a topic or answer a question.

Treatment Experience

One of the most challenging things I've done in my life was take an 8 week improvisational comedy (or improv) course. I took this as a hierarchy item after going through a CBT group and looking for more ways to challenge my anxiety. I don't view this as a "treatment" in it of itself, but for someone whose pursued CBT and made progress, I think improv has a very powerful healing aspect to it. What I found so interesting was that conversation was easy while I was taking the course. It really exercised my creativity on the spot. More importantly it taught me about giving and receiving offers, which is something I find very challenging, and is very important to being conversational aware.

Improv teaches and exercises my muscles of:
Being spontaneous
Trusting myself
Creativity
Selflessness (it's less about you trying to be funny and more about you giving and receiving offers)
Embracing failure!

The last one is the most important. Improv teaches you to embrace failure. I can't stand failure...especially in front of people.
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post #3 of 36 (permalink) Old 03-03-2011, 08:12 AM
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Looking for quotes on benefits of improv for social anxiety


I'm writing an article for a psychology journal, regarding the psychological benefits of improv training. I'm looking for quotes or testimonials on how improv practice may have helped with social anxiety.

Please contact me if you have taken improv classes and found it beneficial for this. I'll be happy to send you a copy of the article once it's completed.

Thanks!

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post #4 of 36 (permalink) Old 09-16-2011, 11:32 PM
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What if you're just not that funny?

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post #5 of 36 (permalink) Old 09-16-2011, 11:50 PM
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I've kind of done improv with my friends. We turn the volume down on a movie (let's say Spider-Man 3) and we each have to dub over the voices of certain characters and make up funny things on the spot. I doubt anyone would find it funny except for us, but it's pretty fun and a good stress reliever!

I could never get up on a stage but I'm aspiring to be a comedy/joke writer...

I'm the Prime Minister of Canada. PM me any time you want to chat!
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post #6 of 36 (permalink) Old 09-17-2011, 10:45 AM
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Interesting, improvising with music is one of my greatest skills, improvising with people is one of my worst..
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post #7 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-10-2011, 09:39 AM
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I've completed an improv comedy class. I didn't help for me, but everyone is different so don't let that stop you, try it! I've heard of someone on a radio show who dissolved his SA with acting classes. The thing for me was... I found out I'm actually really talented at improv comedy, I was the best of the class together with a girl that was also pretty good. But that was ON STAGE. Off stage it was the socially anxious me again, the sponteniety I had on stage didn't help me become more loose off stage...

But anyway, so basically, improv acting came easy and naturally to me, so I guess for me there were no nerves to conquer on that front... So I suspect that's what caused me to not improve my social comfertableness with it.
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post #8 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-10-2011, 09:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JP999 View Post
I've completed an improv comedy class. I didn't help for me, but everyone is different so don't let that stop you, try it!. The thing for me was... I found out I'm actually really talented at improv comedy, I was the best of the class together with a girl that was also pretty good. But that was ON STAGE. Off stage it was the socially anxious me again, the sponteniety I had on stage didn't help me become more loose off stage...

But anyway, so basically, improv acting came easy and naturally to me, so I guess for me there were no nerves to conquer on that front... So I suspect that's what caused me to not improve my social comfertableness with it.
Interesting perspective. Thanks for sharing!

It's less common I think, but there are people who do well in front of groups speaking/performing, but get anxious when connecting with people more on a face to face basis.

Because your improv skills may transfer to conversation (whereas for others, coming up with what to say is very difficult), it may just take some CBT to help you learn to think about socializing in a different way and then keep exposing yourself to social situations. Good luck!
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post #9 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-10-2011, 10:21 AM
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Yeah thanks, no problem. Actually I did well in that situation because I was assuming a role. I have trouble when I get to be "just me". But there I got roles. Of course they were filled by me and my personatlity and sponetiety... But the detachment from myself in that way apperantly was enough to detach the fear of judgement by others for me. I felt free to fool around, it was expected of me even, so ok cool, i can do that.

In the real world I've often been riduculed for the smallest things, so there I'm very cautious and don't feel free to fool around.

Seeing myself write this now, I also went to toastmasters, and although I didn't gave a speech yet I can see myself feeling comfortable with that. Or at least not more uncomfortable then someone without SA. So I guess it's not all about being detached from myself. I guess it has also got to do with what is expected of me. I mean...

With toastmasters it's also expected of you to speak up, so you in a sense have their approval already. Nobody is out to hurt you or bring you down. It's a safe environment where mistakes are accepted and considered as part of the process, and people want you to speak.

Also, I just want to add, the improv class WAS fun for me... I mean the acting itself. I was stunned sometimes about how I came up with all that stuff right on the spot. I mean I couldn't think of that even if I tried, and I guess that was the thing. I didn't think of it, I just did.

Reacting is the secret of improv theater. And the people that aren't good at it, I noticed they tried to think of what to say instead of just reacting. So for me it was kinda like those other people, they had SA when acting and I was doing fine. And then off stage I had SA and they were doing fine. So kind of the world in reserve.

In the end though, not being able to socialize off stage made me not peruse it further, because not being able to share the fun off stage really had a dampening effect on the whole experience. Otherwise it would have bean a real blast I'm sure.

I might try it again in the future, but then I'll have to really focus in on the off stage socializing and maybe try to use the on stage activity more as a run up to that.
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post #10 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-10-2011, 06:40 PM
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I would love to take an improv comedy class! I have always been interested in comedy, and I think it would be a good way to get over anxiety for me. I'm just not sure where to find a class.
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post #11 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-10-2011, 09:21 PM
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I love improv. It's a great way to overlook your inhibitions and insecurities because you don't have much time to think about those when you need to think about how to carry forth the scene you're playing, at least from my experience. You don't feel as on the spot because it's usually a team effort, so other people are (no matter how quote unquote normal they may seem) feeling the same pressures as you, and it's okay if you come off awkward or dumb in how you present yourself in the scene because chances are others have come off that way too while doing it alongside you, and the audience is usually understanding cause they know it's not an easy thing to do, and they laugh off any weirdness and awkwardness with usually no serious judgement. All in all, a great exposure to socializing to build comfort and confidence in social situations.

You can rant and rave all you want but a negative attitude gets you nowhere.
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post #12 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-10-2011, 11:20 PM
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lol i would probably do freestyle comedy for fun one night,, ehh just thinking about it though i would need to get drunk.
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post #13 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-11-2011, 12:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yager75 View Post
I would love to take an improv comedy class! I have always been interested in comedy, and I think it would be a good way to get over anxiety for me. I'm just not sure where to find a class.
Find one at least somewhere close to your area and ask them if they know about ones IN or closeR to your area. Also, try the Google search "theater sport". When I searched in my area that search was more effective for me then improv theater.
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post #14 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-11-2011, 12:48 AM
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Would like to try this too but performance anxiety has been a real problem for me in the past. I once cracked up when performing a piano piece to an audience...there have been other incidents too where i just choke if I think the spotlight is on me..
Interesting that people have the reverse problem ...ie. perform OK but have trouble in real life conversations when you have to be yourself.....which is defintely easier for me.
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post #15 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-11-2011, 03:45 AM
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Would like to try this too but performance anxiety has been a real problem for me in the past. I once cracked up when performing a piano piece to an audience...
When I was around age 10 I dropped a violin from under my chin while standing on stage in front of a biiiiggg audiance of people . But anyway, with improv theater you don't have to preform in front of an audiance. Sure some clubs will require you to, but with a beginner course you just pratice the improv with your classmates, there's no preforming untill the end of the course, but I'm sure you can opt out of that if you want.
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post #16 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-11-2011, 10:08 PM
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I thought about doing this but the idea of actually going makes scared.
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post #17 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-11-2011, 11:23 PM
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Improv is awesome. Going to start going to classes again in January. It was difficult at first since I tend to think to much before saying anything.

I think translation games were my favorite.

It helped me tremendously. It is better when everyone else is nervous to begin with and then you can see how everyone evolves by the end of the first level.
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post #18 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-17-2011, 04:26 PM
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I thought about doing this but the idea of actually going makes scared.
I signed up for a class without really thinking about it. Then the day of the first class came and it was like, "What the hell have I gotten myself into?" I was really anxious on the way to class, but once I got there and met everyone, it was no big deal. I was definitely nervous at points during class, but in the end, it was no big deal. I'm looking forward to next week.
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post #19 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-18-2011, 06:19 AM
No idea.
 
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There's no way I could ever do anything like that. Getting nervous just thinking about it and I'm not even considering doing it.
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post #20 of 36 (permalink) Old 10-18-2011, 08:02 PM
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I would LOVE to take an improv class. I love comedy..I'm a huge fan of SNL and I often make up my own skits. I make up skits and act them out just for my own personal benefit, it really helps me release a lot of stress.

As for getting up on a stage and doing it, I'd probably choke..I can't even speak to a classroom of 10 people without wanting to vomit and pass out

Also, I live in a small town, and nothing like that is offered here, or anywhere near me
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