Every improv class has one. Is it you? Find out now before your symptoms grow worse!
1. When you're playing someone of the opposite gender in a scene, do you demonstrate this by making stereotypical, unnecessary comments or gestures? Does your object work go right out the window in an attempt to make yourself seem like some cartoon version of a boy or girl? Do you keep doing it every damn class even though it never gets a laugh?
2. Do you assume that the women (and, for that matter, people of color) in your class/on your team got there because they are "diverse" and therefore received special treatment from the administration of whatever school/theatre you're at? Do you further assume that they are not funny and have nothing of value to add to the group, whereas you are "actually funny"? Do you make comments to this effect, either under your breath or with a sarcastic lilt so that you can claim "I was joking!" when confronted about your behavior?
3. Do you think that just because the room is full of mostly male bodies, it's a safe space for blatant misogyny? Do you make off-color comments to get a rise out of your classmates because you equate making others uncomfortable with being an edgy comic.
4. Do you think this shit is okay because you're all hanging out... drinking? Do you realize that alcohol is the most common date rape drug? Are you in a position of privilege such that those kinds of statistics don't often cross your mind, whereas the females in the room probably already knew that?
5. Is your default response to a victim of rape, abuse or harassment coming forward with their story: "they are making it up for attention/revenge"? Do you express this opinion in group conversations? Do you not realize there's a good chance that someone in that group conversation is a victim of rape and/or abuse and/or harassment, and you've just made yourself completely untrustworthy in their eyes?
6. Do you invade your scene partners' personal space on a regular basis? Do you use the playful class atmosphere as an excuse to grab your scene partner, grope your scene partner, or physically intimidate your scene partner?
7. Do you do that thing where you like, ALWAYS sweep girls' scenes without realizing it? Or literally SEND GIRLS OUT OF SCENES THAT THEY STARTED. Or join a girl's scene for no other reason than you like to hear the sound of your own voice?
8. Do you dismiss all-female improv and sketch groups as niche and unfunny? Do you not see how the need for all-female groups comes directly from the behaviors listed above (i.e., men fucking with our group work)?
9. Are you screaming NOT ALL MEN at your cracked iPhone screen right now?
10. Despite what teachers, podcasts and books about improv tell you, do you often decide not to play to the top of your intelligence and instead make gross and un-funny sexist/racist/dumb/objectifying comments or gestures in scenes? Do you use the "I'm kidding! It was part of the scene!" excuse?
11. When confronted about how your words and actions affect those around you -- people who are supposed to trust you -- do you immediately get defensive instead of thinking about how you could improve and sincerely apologizing? Do you honestly think that no one understands that you might have made a mistake? Do you truly, seriously think that you have nothing to learn? That sensitivity is overrated and anathema to comedy? Do you actually, in your heart of hearts, believe that getting one little laugh, usually from the least-intelligent person in the room, is worth alienating your future collaborators and friends? FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DO YOU NOT GET THAT IMPROV CAN HELP YOU GROW INTO A MORE OPEN AND TRUTHFUL HUMAN BEING? THAT YOU ARE HERE TO FUCKING LEARN, SO WHEN SOMEONE GIVES YOU A NOTE, YOU SHOULD FUCKING TAKE THE NOTE AND MAKE YOURSELF A BETTER PERSON AND PERFORMER?
If you answered "Yes" to any of the above questions, you might be the asshole. I am so sorry. Please take a moment to consider your behavior and make a real attempt at being better next week. If you answered "No" to all of the above questions, there is only one more thing you need to ask yourself...
Do you have your scene partner's back? Really. Like, emotionally and whatnot. Do you have her back? Because if you're not there for her, you need to get your ass out of class.