Can You Make Money Doing Improv?

Hey, it’s me Mark!

Improvisers spend a lot of time doing improv, or practicing improv, or talking about it. It reaches a certain point where their families see them investing an enormous amount of time into this thing and they wonder, “Are you ever going to see a return on that investment?”

Our wonderful families and friends aren’t talking about an emotional return. They’re talking about money. Are we going to make our money back?

The conventional wisdom (usually shared with a person who has been doing improv for a year and loves it and wants to devote the rest of their Earthly existence to the promotion of this art) is that you will never make a living performing improv. You might someday be able to scratch out a living teaching it. But you can’t live off improv performance. It’s sad but true.

But wait…

I’ve been getting deep into Seth Godin this week. He’s an author and an entrepreneur. He talks about marketing frequently. Mostly, he’s just a good insightful guy. I like him. We’d probably be friends if we met. It’s no big deal.

Something Godin talks about is how we’re at the beginning of this new chapter in the world. We’re finishing up the chapter about the technological revolution. In the new chapter, what drives a person’s success is the ability to innovate. If you’re doing some task at your job, a machine could be invented tomorrow to do that. Boom. No more job. But if you have the ability to think differently, or the ability to let yourself think differently, you can never be replaced.

He says that we need to fail. We need to be willing to fail. Successful people are the ones who have failed more than the rest of us.

So will I ever make the money back that I spent learning to improvise? Sure. Because improv taught me to be comfortable trying new things. Improv taught me to fail.

I don’t just fail onstage. I fail every day. I fail in my relationship with my wife. I fail in my relationship with God. I fail at work. I fail everywhere. I’m getting really good at failing. It’s exciting.

I want to work in marketing. I’m not there yet, but I will be soon. How do I know?

Because I’m fantastic at failing.

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