Suck on the loose
Lately, I’ve felt chased by a giant improv cloud of suck. For some reason, I’ve also been thinking a lot about my high school chorus. Our choral director was probably the most skilled teacher I’ve ever had. (Debate amongst yourselves, Clarence High grads! But for sheer teaching ability, I have to vote Vehar.) And singing was not my forte. No, I sucked at singing. But I was so damn determined to get better that I actually took voice lessons over the summer in hopes of improving. And this is what I remember from that time: You have to hit it hard. You need a lot of air in your diaphragm; you need a lot of power for the high notes. You will botch them if you don’t go in with a ridiculous ton of energy. The same, I think, holds true of improv. You put in less “hit it” energy because you’re afraid of sucking, and you will, automatically, suck.
I remember sitting in the old chorale room for voice labs, absolutely dreading my turn to sing in front of everyone, holding my little Xeroxed notes and trembling. Vehar would come over and literally straighten my back and chin into alignment, then run to the old upright piano and plink the same notes over and over again until I got it mostly right.