Improv Is Not My Occupation

by Wells

Gladwell’s high-water mark for expertise is 10,000 hours.  For a guy like me, it isn’t worth going after 10,000 hours of deliberate practice in improv.  If you had 5 hours of deliberate practice every weekday, it’d still take 400 weeks to reach that mark.

Assuming you get a coach with enough free time that’d cut you a break at $15/hour, that’s $150,000, or $375 a week.  Let’s also assume you’re sharing the cost with 4 other like-minded maniacs, which brings that down to $30,000, or $75 a week.

You’d also need a rehearsal space, which you’d be better off trying to get for free, otherwise you’ll probably end up doubling the costs above, plus taxes.

You’d need a morning-to-afternoon job with a consistent schedule to fund all this and a wife who doesn’t mind missing you for 25 hours every week (or insert your own analog for missing out on your personal life here).

The real kicker is that after this is all done you probably still would not be able to make a living at it.  You’d have to transfer your expertise in improv performance into another field like writing, acting, or directing.  Those things are nice, but you spent all that time working on improv only to not live in a world where improv performance itself pays the bills.

I think most of us are doomed to relying on talent.  The people this kind of lifestyle would apply to would need to have been doing improv in seventh grade the way Tiger Woods was sinking putts as a tyke.  And it’ll take more than a handful of young devotees to make the lifestyle alluring.  It’s going to have to be a movement, like sports or rock and roll.  The bigger football got, the better the players got, because they were starting younger.