I never studied improv. Frankly, the idea of it terrifies me. Anyone who can improvise well has my utmost respect. That being said, I’m proud of myself for doing Setlist. The idea is horrifying to me in that I always have some sense of what I’m going to talk about before hitting the stage, even if it’s a loose concept and not a fully formed bit. Lately I’ve been forcing myself to try new approaches and techniques, not just with standup, but in life. Making eye contact with strangers and speaking to them without mumbling, etc. Saying “hello” to someone on the street. Order something different off the menu. Sure, they’re little efforts, but it can lead to bigger changes for the better.
I think Setlist showed me that the things I was afraid of weren’t scary at all, but just a change to my routine. So to take that stage and find myself in the middle of a joke about a skydiving baby absolutely no idea how I got there or how I’m going to get out of it has helped immensely with the pre-written, pre-thought bits. I’m not so shell-shocked when a joke is bombing and I don’t know how to handle it. So go out and try something new today. Change the pattern. It’s fun, even if it goes awkward. Because you’re in charge of the awkwardness. I say thanks, Setlist!