Well, it’s come and gone – the thing that made me so nervous yesterday: Harold team auditions at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. I’m going to talk about my experience, but first thing’s first. I didn’t get a callback. It’s the way things work, nothing I can do. Besides “being better,” I guess.
There’s a lot of things I could blame for my marked lack of success today: the fact that I woke up five minutes before I had planned to leave my house (my alarm was on silent for some reason); the fact that my group rode an energy rollercoaster in the time before our actual audition (scheduling mishaps led to our warming up for 45 minutes); the fact that I knew no one in my audition group (though they seem like a fine group of folks). But really there is nothing to blame. Except myself.
The pressure I feel performing improv is so great that I sometimes wonder why I do it at all. I have some great moments, but I spend most of my time in my own head. That’s the main thing I tried to attack in the practice sessions leading up up today. In five sessions I gleaned useful information from five very wise coaches, but coaches can’t teach confidence. My self-doubt is my downfall, and it is also the reason I was already convinced I wouldn’t get a callback as I left the audition room.
So thanks to my natural pessimism I quickly came to terms with the fact that I wouldn’t need to return to the new UCB training center tomorrow. “Good,” I justified to myself. “Now I can have a stress-free Sunday. Just like The Lord would want.” But that didn’t stop me from feeling a little sad as people around me started getting emails about callbacks.
I had met up with some improviser friends this evening to decompress and chat. It was supposed to be a fun social occasion. We even went karaoke-ing, for goodness sake. I didn’t even think about the fact that half of us would get really exciting emails, while the other half of us would get the form condolence email. Sure there’s a little jealousy involved – how could there not be? – but a significant chunk of the distress that I feel is for another reason. I just started finding people with whom I enjoy like improvising. It doesn’t feel like a chore with these people. So what happens if they get on Harold teams? Will I ever see them again? Or will they walk past me as they exit through the stage door, failing to notice my presence among all of the groupies and autograph hounds.
A dramatic response to be sure, but not entirely in jest. I’ve spoken about my social anxiety before, and now that it’s starting to wane, I fear that factors outside of my control may bring it back stronger than ever. I guess all I can do is spend the next year improving my improv. I take a little solace in the fact that I had a better audition this year than I did last year, but I can’t just rest on my laurels anymore. It’s time to step it up, or I might get left in the dust.