Why Is Improv So Scary? Part Three: "I'll look ridiculous"

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Click here to read the IntroductionPart One, and Part Two

I’ve been staring at a blank Word document for 45 minutes because I have nothing of substance to say.

^^Excellent start to a blog post.

But truly, this week’s subject is a hard one for me. We’re taking a look at our next improv-related fear – “I’ll look ridiculous” – which is the toughest fear to talk about, because there’s absolutely nothing that anyone can say that would talk you out of your fear of looking ridiculous.

Yep. I could end this one right here, but I won’t because I have a lot of videos I want you to watch (see below).

Some people are born without the fear of looking ridiculous. Maybe you’re so good looking that you can drag your butt across the carpet like a dog and people will still think you’re charming (like John Hamm’s 30 Rock character). Maybe you’re blessed with a robust self-image or some selective blindness when it comes to your own flaws. If you’re one of these people, congratulations, now go forth and do some improv with grace and ease.

With that lucky lot out of the way, that leaves the rest of us who were born with a healthy fear of looking stupid and must either shake that fear or live as its slave for the rest of eternity.

This fear isn’t like the fear of being unfunny or the fear of freezing up. Those we can acknowledge and live with. We can’t live with the fear of looking ridiculous because it doesn’t just make us afraid of improv – it makes us afraid of being alive.

As somebody who is afraid of a lot of stuff (ovens, knives, men with beards, semi trucks, spiders, being unlovable, etc.), I know how unhelpful it is to tell someone to “get over” a fear. So I won’t say that. But I will provide you with an exhaustive list of all the reasons we should both let go of our fear of looking ridiculous, as well as a few clips of people looking ridiculous in the best of ways.

 The One and Only Authoritative List of Reasons to Look Ridiculous
(Known henceforth as TOAOALORTLR)

1. Someday you will die. Your hours on this planet are numbered. This is a fact and not me being morbid. Spend your hours learning things and helping people and falling in love. Don’t spend them trying to guess what you look like in other people’s eyes.

2. There will be people who admire you for never looking stupid. They will be profoundly boring people.

3. Every single person who has set a huge goal and accomplished it has been accused of ridiculousness at some point along the way. See: Copernicus, Mamie Phipps Clark, Kathrine Switzer, and many others.

4. You know that moment when you’ve had four glasses of Chardonnay and your inner monologue sounds something like, “I’m going to shake my ass to this beloved Hall and Oates song because I’m happy and free and I don’t care what anybody thinks”? You can actually do that without the Chardonnay and save about $36.

5. When you were around 12 years old, you had a sudden, terrible realization that there is a difference between someone laughing with you and someone laughing at you. That is totally true. You will try something, and certain people will laugh at you. They’ll be there laughing at you when you’re 12 and when you’re 40 and when you’re 86. And then they’ll die and you’ll die. But you will have spent your time on earth trying, instead of laughing at those whose try.

6. There is no actual fallout from looking ridiculous. You will not be taken to jail or tarred and feathered. Take advantage of this free-for-all while it lasts.

7. No matter how much you fret and how hard you try, you will never avoid looking ridiculous. We live in a ridiculous world governed by ridiculous rules and codes. We talk about the weather as if it interests us.  We post photos of our own faces on the Internet and hope that lots of people we know click a “like” button. The Bachelorette is an actual show. And I watch it religiously.

You are ridiculous. I am ridiculous. Resistance is futile. Have some fun.

In conclusion, here are some videos of excellent people looking ridiculous. Please send me any I’ve missed.

Will Ferrell chewing food and spitting it into the mouth of another person.