Decide On an Aspiration

Before leaving for the theater, set a goal. Perhaps it’s “I will laugh once.”

Practice Self-Compassion

Driving to the show, it’s easy to ruminate on every mistake that led to watching improv on Sunday at 3 PM. Forgive yourself. Anyone could forget that Josh has the charisma of a beached jellyfish and that most of his jokes are Ron Weasley quotes. The coming nightmare isn’t your fault.

Focus On What You Can Control

The show will be bad. That’s a given. It will be excruciating to watch. Second hand embarrassment will bankrupt your soul like thousands of dollars in wasted improv classes. However, you can sit in the back to avoid audience participation.

Ground Yourself

As the lights dim, close your eyes and place your feet flat on the theater’s beer-glazed floor. Feel the moldy chair against your thighs. Smell the perspiration fuming off adult actors dressed as preteen wizards. Listen to improvisers ominously shouting spells backstage: “Expelliarmus!” “Alohomora!” “Zip Zap Zop!” Enter a state of inner peace. So when Josh announces his group, Harry Potter and The Sorcerers’ Boners, you’re centered.

Drink a Lot

Just trust me. It’ll help.

Breathe Deeply

Josh asks the seven people in the audience for suggestions. No response. A middle-aged man coughs. Mercifully, someone yells “Hogwarts!” Things devolve into sloppy inside-jokes about quaffles and 25-year-old men pretending to be chocolate frogs. The crowd is completely silent. Christ. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Toss some noises on the exhale to create the illusion of laughter.

Rub Your Hands

Now they’re cans of beef in the Forbidden Forest. Start gently rubbing your fingers. Shit. They’re centaurs who can’t fit into their pants. Forcefully squeeze your hand. Oh sweet loving fuck. Now they’re just at a non-magical milk store. Why? Crack every single bone in every goddamn knuckle. God no… Josh is Dobby. He’s running around shouting, “Help me Harry! There’s a wand in my butt, govnah!” No one is laughing. No one has ever laughed. Dig your nails into your palm until warm, wet blood rushes out and brings you sweet relief.

Consider Faking a Heart Attack

I’m just throwing shit at the wall here.

Take a Step Back

Retreat into yourself. Go to a better place. Far away from this quidditch-based horror show. Remember a time before you knew what improv was. You’re nine years old. Running through the kitchen in wool socks and sliding into your mother’s loving arms. It’s Christmas morning. The scent of chocolate cookies wafts through the air and caresses the spirit. Stockings filled to the brim with toys hang gracefully over the mantle. Your father pats you on the head warmly. He’s brought in your first bike. He’s so proud of you. Open your eyes. The show should long be over

Practice Gratitude

Dear Christ, it’s only been eight minutes. You’re fucked. Prepare for seventeen more minutes of horrified improvisers slowly realizing this show is unsalvageable. I’m so sorry. Be thankful you aren’t burning alive in a grease fire.

Mindfully Eat Your Ticket

This is it. This is where it all ends. Trapped in a prison of relentless “yes and-ing.” Every minute you spend here you sit on the precipice of a Longbottomesque black hole where time has no beginning. No end. All you can do is stare unblinking into its gnashing maw as Josh, playing a flying car, frantically grasps for meaning in the closing scenes. Will you ever leave this theater? Does it matter? You’ve seen hell and been gutted for all you’re worth. To purge any memory of this show—eat your fucking ticket.

Congratulate Josh

Good on him for putting himself out there.