Whenever someone says “I’m in my head,” I think of this song:
Anyway, being “in your head” in improv blows. It could be one or all of the things listed below:
- you think too much about what you might do in a scene
- you think a lot about the rules of improv
- you question if you’re making the right move(s)
- you question your instincts
- you have a laundry list of things you want to focus on
- your confidence is not high
When do you get in your head
This usually happens after level 2 at UCB / Magnet or level 3 at iO West. It’s because you just finished the basics of scene work, and now you have to put it into a structured performance format (usually the Harold). Some people never get in their head, but that is pretty rare. Almost everyone I’ve ever known who’s done improv, has been in their head. The length of how long you’re in your head ranges. I would say I was in my head for a good 3 years. Yeah. No kidding. What broke it for me was a 1 year break from improv. Some people can plow through the heady and just get it after a while.
How to get out of your head
You’re in your own way when you’re in your head. The worst thing is that you know it. You know the rules, you know you can break them, you think you’re doing it right at one moment and then the next you second guess yourself. UCB’s motto/tagline “Don’t Think” is genius, because really, that’s when the best improv happens. When it become organic, natural, real, and effortlessly funny. Here are some ideas to help you get over your head. Every person is different, so I may not even list what is right for you. It might be when you get fired from your job, or that guy/girl you really like asks you out, or when you get new blinds in your apartment. It could be a little thing or a big thing or it just happens one day and you realize long after it happens, “Hey. I’m out of my head. Cool.”
Ideas on how to get out of your head
- vent to someone who does not do improv about your improv woes. do this A LOT. the goal is to get over the need to vent.
- write down your improv woes. keep them? burn them?
- when you get heady in a scene and you notice it, drop all thoughts and just focus on your scene partner. react.
- when you get heady in a scene and you notice it, ask your scene partner to repeat what they just said and play the scene as if it were happening in real life in real time.
- do everything you can to make your scene partner laugh
- do everything you can to make yourself laugh
- make it your goal to have the most fun on stage ever. if you get in your head in a scene, ask yourself, “What would be the most fun choice here?”
- if you feel like crap after a class/rehearsal/show, go home and scream into your pillow and beat that sh*t up
- if you feel like crap after a class/rehearsal/show, hang out with your friends and talk about anything BUT improv
- take a break from improv (this depends on you. some people need 1 week, 1 month, 1 year, 5 years. you’ll know when the time is right to come back.)
- take a vacation
- take a class (maybe just a one day thing, it depends on you) on something you know nothing about on something you never thought about
- go hang out with your parents/grandparents and ask them what their hobbies are, and why they love doing them
- listen to your gut all of the time