Thursday, September 22, 2011

Express Yo'face

For most of my life I've been told I have an "expressive face."

My face...*might* be composed of 75% rubber.
And I totally agree with this.  In recent years, due to performing and improv, I've become far more aware of my face and its expressiveness.  Heck, sometimes in a scene I don't even need to say a word because the darn thing just speaks volumes for me.  (It's okay, my vocal chords appreciate the rest.)

However, there is a catch: my face doesn't always inform me when it's being so damn expressive.  It just kind of has a mind of its own. 

Or better yet, it doesn't have a mind, but rather it disconnects itself from my mind and just kind of does its own thing.

Case in point:  Last night I was in a show, having a great time, just playing and performing with one of my teams.  The show was pretty good, and very fun.  Wasn't our best work, but we had a good time and learned some things.  The audience also seemed to enjoy it which is always a nice bonus.

After the show, I met up with a friend who had watched from the audience.  He and I are on another team, so I gave him a ride to our rehearsal which immediately followed that particular show.  While we walked to the car he was telling me that he enjoyed the performance, and that I was funny in the piece (always good to hear), but then came..."But..."

As an improviser, it's always imperative to take any type of criticism in stride.  Besides, I could live a life free of criticism if I chose to - I mean, if I never wanted to accomplish or try anything ever


I'll take my chances of being criticized, thank you.

So I welcomed what was about to follow my friend's "But..."

"But," he said, "I noticed you making this face while you were standing on the sides."

He proceeded to imitate the face he was talking about.  It was part stink face, part deep in thought, part "WTF?!" 

And I totally didn't have a CLUE I was even making it.  I do remember getting into character on the sides, as one of my team mates signaled to me that he would be pulling that character out again soon, so to the best of my knowledge, that must have been what I was doing. 

God forbid my face was judging the scene.  My brain sure as hell wasn't.  In fact, my brain was actually having a lot of fun watching my friends do awesome things up there yesterday night. 

It was even trying to remember stuff it liked so I could use it later in the piece.

But my face...MY FACE!  It just went ahead and did its own thing. 

What worries me is that I know this is just one instance of many.  And it's one of the rare instances that someone actually mentioned it to me.  So today I've just been sitting here, thinking about all of the times I've probably been trying to feign some sort of emotion or attitude for whatever reason (Oh. Come. On.  We've all done it...), and my honest, mindless, expressive face outs me every time. 

My face is really like a feral wallaby who has wandered into a heavily populated metro area.  It wants to fit in and understand (and, much like a wallaby, it's pretty darned cute, right?  Maybe? Whatever.), but you can't take the wild, ravenous beast out of a feral animal.  Not even a wallaby.  And when the mood hits, it will undoubtedly twist and contort and jerk itself around with reckless, albeit expressive, abandon.

But you know what?  I'm cool with it.  Because although I haven't mastered its power, I have learned to be able to use it in my improv work.  And it makes me uniquely me.  (Look, at almost 31 I've learned to see the value in not being like everyone else all the time.  It's actually a pretty great thing...being who you are, flaws, weird habits, oddities and all.)

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