One question that I get asked all the time is, “Can improv build confidence?” The short answer: yes it can. I know that I’m not supposed to have favorites; if any of my other students found out, they would be sad..  So please don’t tell them.  But for the purpose of this post, I have a favorite.

The first day of class was like meeting a mouse.  Any approach made her retreat.  Any request triggered anxiety.  It was an uphill battle.  I could hardly get volume out of her voice.  I could hardly get a “yes” from her, let alone a “yes and…”.

But I pushed.  I needed more from her.  Her classmates needed more from her.  But most importantly, she needed more from herself.  “LOUDER” was my favorite word to yell at her.

The biggest hurdle, from my perspective, was this disappointed look, shrug and head shake she would give after everything she said.  It was the “I don’t think what I’m saying is good enough and that was the stupidest thing to say” look that some of my student give.  She had it bad – it happened after every comment she made.

So, we worked on one thing:  Confidence.  In everything we did with her, we worked on her confidence.  Confidence in her choices. Confidence in her voice.  Confidence in herself.

“Ignore the saboteur!”  Anyone who has taken my classes or even our free intro to improv 1 hour workshop, knows this is a KEY ingredient to successful improv (& life).  Ignore the saboteur means you can’t listen to the self judgement that holds you back from becoming your best.  For some people it constantly criticizes them.  It’s constantly talking to them.  Self judgement is the worst judgement.

I’m a firm believer that improv classes teach confidence.  More than anything else, it’s confidence.  I don’t think we teach people to be funny.  We teach them to be bold in the choices they make, stick to them, have fun with them, and be willing to be embarrassed by those choices.  But, above all, know that your choices matter.

Improv teaches LIFE skills.  By working on her confidence to her choices she made ON stage, she began to change OFF stage and apply the teachings to real life.

Can improv build confidence? After a couple rounds of classes she sent me this email:

“Jesterz improv classes helped me acquire skills I needed that in turn gave me opportunity to change aspects of my life I felt stuck in and couldn’t change. I was essentially at effect of the my current situations.  For example, I worked at a job that was NOT a good fit. The classes at Jesterz helped me to see what kind of environment I would like to be in and the people I would want to work with. Jesterz also helped me to get UNSTUCK as I worked through by own personality traits that held me back and I became the EFFECT of what I wanted to create. Eventually I learned valuable communication skills, built confidence, and learned to PLAY again! This resulted in several job offers and now I work at a place where I look forward to going every day. I interact with people that I enjoy on a daily basis. Jesterz can help you create again, find the value of playing (if you forgot) and design the life you want”. 
I’m forever grateful to ALL my students, for the things they teach me.  I’m happy that what we are doing here at JesterZ has value to them and the community.  So, to answer the question, “Can improv build confidence?” If there’s one thing and one thing only, that our improv comedy classes teach – I’m confident: We teach confidence.  And for that, I’m more than willing to continue to teach improvisation to any and all who could use a boost.