Great comedy is unexpected, it surprises and delights us. Similarly, life can be totally magical when it catches us off guard.
It was 2011 and I was standing on the side of the road outside my local bar, when a group of boys I had gone to school with pulled up and got out of their taxi. I gave each of the boys the regular side-air-kiss-half-hug greeting but the last boy I thought moved in for the high five “Howzit babe?” and to my total surprise gave me a big fat smooch. Awkward but this dude is now my husband. We always joke about his spontaneous sexual encounter, which is so out of character for him but thank goodness this happened because although it caught me off guard, this was the moment my soulmate came into my life. At the time I didn’t recognize this value of this spontaneous lip smacking, life changing encounter. I pushed him away and said: “Get off me.” But in hindsight this unexpected happy accident altered the trajectory of my life forever.
We are so afraid of the unknown. The moment we are not in control of the outcome we perceive the potential failure as dooming. We will always choose the tried and tested route. Although some of us may truly have what it takes to trailblaze and carve our own unique path, we often hold ourselves back, fearing failure or not being good enough.
When I am performing improvisational comedy, which is comedy that is made up on the spot, there is no second guessing myself, no self-sabotage. I trust myself and the process enough to know that no matter what happy accidents are going to occur I’m going to be ok, more than ok actually, I’m going to thrive. I know how to look failure in the face and say “You don’t scare me!” I’m fearless. I am brave. I am living in my true power. And by applying this bravery to my everyday, I can live a full, happy, purposeful life.
People ask me all the time: “Claudine, why are you so beautiful, what’s your secret?” Oh sorry, that’s from a previous draft. People ask me: “Can everyone experience this even if you’re not a performer?” Totally. Because improv is a skill, everyone can do it and everyone can apply these learnt skills to their everyday lives. Just like learning the piano, it just takes practice. Practice failing. Fail often. Once you’ve failed a lot and you’ve learnt to see that failure as, surprise – something cool is going to happen – you start to become a confident failure, a master failure if you will. Once you are a master in something, the fear around that subject, dissipates.
It is this fearlessness that allows us to take massive risks and therefore get massive returns. And that is the essence of comedy – because being funny is ALWAYS a risk – whether it’s in front of one person or a hundred. And risk is what leads to greatness. If that awkward guy hadn’t risked a kiss instead of a high five, I may not have found my soulmate. I am NOT recommending kissing people without their permission. But what I am suggesting is let’s see our failures as happy accidents. Let us be in that improv comedy mindset that doesn’t just encourage us to fail but rather encourages us to milk that failure for every little bit of juiciness that failure has to offer.