Taoblog: Hope and Fear

Birds of a Feather

“Hope and fear are just phantoms that arise from thinking of the self.”   — The Tao Te Ching

My improv troupe/theater (tribe) is better than your improv troupe/theater (tribe).

My tribe can do no wrong. Our players are better. Our shows are better. Our classes are better. We are better people. I’m surprised your team can’t see this. I will portray all of the horrible things that my teammates do in the best possible light, or I will ignore them. I will portray what I imagine your teammates are doing in the worst possible light. And I will spread that view to as many others as I can. I’ll do this because I am the guardian of improv. And because, jeez, it’s hard to tell my friends that the things they are doing are fucked up. I have to drink with these people, dude!

I’m being facetious again. That sort of mentality does not represent the vast majority of improvisers. Most of the ones I’ve met are just the opposite. They try to remain positive. They are some of the most supportive people you’ll meet. All ideas are valued. Everyone is welcome.

Chances are, if you join the improv world, you’ll mostly encounter helpful people who want you to succeed. The type portrayed in the first two paragraphs — those are rare. But they exist. And their impact far outweighs their numbers.

In many ways, improv is a close-knit community. Like a large extended family. There are friendships. There are rivalries. There is support. There is gossip. And gossip. And gossip.

You will seek your level. If you like telling tales (true or false) about others; if you like or need a feeling of superiority; if you love the lowest common denominator — all you have to do is behave that way. Birds of that feather will seek you out. (Everyone is tempted to behave that way on occasion. It’s called being human.)

If you prefer to accept others; if you want to behave as though you are a small, happy cog in a bright, wonderful machine — no better or worse, no more or less entitled than any other cog — behave that way. Others of your kind will find you and embrace you. (Everyone wants to believe they behave this way on occasion. It’s also called being human.)

Whichever your preference, there’s a place for you. Just know that the other side exists, and would prefer if you joined their ranks. Neither will ever go away. Neither will ever dominate. Both will judge the other from time to time. There will always be fear. There will always be hope. You’ll be tempted by both.

Improv is like life.


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