Last week I was talking with a friend who is a fellow improviser. He admitted having trouble getting into characters, and staying out of his head. I'm trying this thing where I empathize know... be a better human being an' I responded with a very deep, and insightful, "Yeah. That can be hard. I've been there too." Oh man! What wisdom! I was making it rain empathy! Though, it wasn't super helpful. So we kept talking.

We continued talking about improv, and letting go of fear. The conversation curved all over the place, from improv characters, to scene commitment, to yes, and, etc. Then, we talked about scene starts, and where to begin.

We realized scene starts, and particularly, beginning in the middle, can solve a lot of issues. Since our first improv class we've all been encouraged to, 'begin in the middle.' I teach my improv classes and players to begin the scene' "five minutes later." Begin the scene five minutes in, make the audience work, let them figure out what's happening. They're smart. It's good to challenge the audience. They'll appreciate the challenge.


In our discussion, we realized a whole new reason 'five minutes later' helps. An improviser appreciates the distraction. The start in the middle improv suggestion isn't just for the benefit of the audience, but for the benefit of the improviser. It helps everyone. If we begin 5 minutes in, those are five minutes we don't sit around doubting pour choice, or fearing our scene initiation. The "getting out of your head" issue really dissolves when you're in the middle of an improvised robbery, instead of carefully planning the heist. It's easier to be a cop when you start the scene busting a drug ring, and not beginning a scene doodling on your space work desk at the precinct (aside: I misspelled precinct, and Google Keep autocorrected my spelling to 'precenjnt.' What is a precenjnt? It looks Scandinavian).

We start a scene 'late' and we can just be. We start a scene 'early,' and we have a higher likelyhood of getting chased around by doubt.

Idle hands are the devil's playground, and an idle mind is an improviser's hell. Ultimately, it'll be a great day on the improv stage when we can let go of the doubt devil, and just tell ourselves, "OK. This is the scene I'm in. It's a great scene. I just have to listen and respond, and it'll become even better!"

Until then, jumping into a scene, pushing that door open, instead of planning on pushing the door, will help us get out of our self inflicted critiques, and into living in the moment.