How an Improv Comedy Show Brought Home the Definition of Freelancing

The lights dimmed, and the cast came out to the applause of the audience. Each improv cast member was dressed as an iconic Halloween icon, and the production was an old school “murder mystery whodunit.” The crew at Dad’s Garage (if you are ever in the Atlanta area, please go see these guys) knows how to make people laugh through the art of improv.

However, while I was laughing at Chucky’s monologues, I had a realization. Improv is a lot like freelance. It is so similar that I considered taking an improv class to help me ease into the “uncertainty and unknown” of freelancing.

When it comes to improv, the whole setup represents the definition of freelancing. There are so many components that jumped out at me. So, if you are wondering about what it is like to freelance and how freelancing can impact your life, I hope this analogy sheds more light on the definition of freelancing.

Thinking on Your Feet

The way the improv group at Dad’s Garage could think on their feet, it was awe-inspiring to see. Nothing tripped these individuals up, and even when it seemed like another actor took an unexpected turn in dialogue, they were able to handle it. Freelancing comes with the same situations. You never know what can come your way.

You may have a client who makes an unexpected request, or that favorite software tool may be offline due to an update. One of the meanings of freelancing is understanding the importance of always “being ready.”

Learning from Mistakes

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Again, this group was amazing, and there were only a few times where someone broke character and had a hearty laugh. However, when this happened, they just kept going. They didn’t go over what happened or let it outwardly impact their confidence. Honestly, they wouldn’t have had the time to do this. The same is true with freelancing.

You are going to make mistakes. That is inevitable. Yet, how you choose to react to these errors will define how you evolve as a freelancer. Every failure or mistake is a chance to learn. You will not always get the pricing right, and you may not have asked all the intake questions you needed to. You will get better. Trust that.

It’s Okay to Laugh at Yourself

Do you know who the loudest laughers were? The cast that was sitting down watching the other cast members during their scenes. Granted, it was a comedy show, but I could tell that even if that were not the case, these individuals didn’t take themselves too seriously in this forum. As a freelancer, you are going to run into moments where having a sense of humor is going to come in handy.

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Sending out a typo-filled email (even though you put it through Grammarly), or signing into a meeting late because of a time-zone difference is par for the course. Being patient with yourself and even sometimes having a chuckle is genuinely a part of the definition of freelancing.

Suggestions and Recommendations from Clients Will Keep You On Your Toes

Before the show began, I saw a basket for audiences to contribute their ideas for the show. With this being my first improv event, I wasn’t sure of what to make of it. My friend then informed me that audiences could contribute instructions or “keywords,” the actors could use at critical moments during the show. These moments could help steer the show in an entirely other direction.

It was truly remarkable watching these actors incorporate ideas from the audience into what they do. Out of all the entries I mentioned above, this one is more on the nose than any of the others. You will receive feedback, you will be asked to include suggestions, and it can steer your work into an entirely other direction. That’s the nature of freelancing.

You have to maintain the structure that allows you to get the job done, while also being loose enough to incorporate the vision of your client.

Improv Brings The Definition of Freelancing to Life

As I sat there watching each performer embrace their role and play off their teammates, I was inspired. It helped me realize that freelancing is meant to be this fluid. Many obstacles can get in the way. However, having a “freelancer’s mindset” allows you to get into the groove of the true definition of freelancing.

The “free” within the word applies to the flexibility of the work as well as the loose nature of being adaptable, just like an improvisation actor. While you may feel like you have no idea what you are doing, and that the “instability” feels uncomfortable, you are becoming nimble and are finding your way.

Each day you are improving, and the more you get used to adapting to the scenarios that come your way, the better you will be as a freelancer. That is the true definition of freelancing…adaptability and the desire to always improve.