Using Improv to Counter Perfectionism w/ Chris Rosser

Chris Rosser is an owner and principal of a Stagecoach Performing Arts School in Reading East. The success of Chris’ business has also allowed him to explore the world of comedy, writing sketches for Hoopla Impro as well as being cast in one of our resident house teams: Michelle.


Most recently, Chris has taken the bold move of starting a Masters in Comedy Writing. Chris told us about how improvisation has given him the head start over his peers on the course and how his using the power of creativity to counter his perfectionist tendencies.


I applied to start my Masters in Comedy Writing at Falmouth University last summer, submitting some samples that I’d created through writing with Hoopla Impro. While I had no expectations that I’d be selected to enroll in the Masters programme, creating sketches with Hoopla made me fall in love with writing again so I just went for it. Luckily, I was accepted into the programme.


The beauty of it is there’s so many times after a rehearsal that I’d start rewriting an improv scene on the train home, thinking “If I’d done this or that…” Now, in the context of a live improv show, that’s not particularly useful, but in comedy writing that’s extremely helpful! So on a first draft, I get to improvise a comedy scene with no filter and actually go back and change the beats I want to. I dump all of my thoughts onto a piece of paper and sort through it later. With my prior experience in improv, the course has ended up being not as stressful as I thought it would be.


In fact, as soon as I started the Masters, I felt like I had a leg up on a lot of the other people on my course because of my improv background.


“The mentality of not being expected to be perfect is what I get from improv.”


At the end of every week, my peers and I have to submit portions of our writing into an online forum. A lot of them every week are commenting “This is really bad” or “I’m really nervous to share this”. I read one after another after another and thought to myself, what are you guys apologising for? We’re students, we’re here to learn, no one is expecting us to be perfect. The comments I tend to leave on my work are more like “It is what it is, any feedback welcome!” I think the mentality of not being expected to be perfect is what I get from improv. This is a skill that I’m trying to bring into my day to day life.


I’m a perfectionist most of the time, I plan the hell out of everything. But when it comes to creative stuff, I think you need to put that aside. If you overly judge everything then you’re never going to go out on a limb and make a choice that is new or exciting.  To be creative, step one is just to feel comfortable with making weird choices.


I think a lot of it comes down to: just do it. I’m very good at planning and while it can be very useful in the running of my business, I’ve recently realised it’s a procrastination technique. I’ll say to myself, ‘Look how organised I am!’ but I won’t have actually done the thing that I need to do. Whenever I make myself: just do it, I usually realise that there was nothing to be afraid of.


The times now where I’ve felt ‘This is something I really want to do’ I’m just going to do it, I find myself really grateful that I just did it. I’m glad I didn’t just dwell on thinking, planning, asking other people’s opinions and stalling, because I probably would have ended up talking myself out of it.


A big thank you to Chris Rosser for taking the time to talk to us!


For more information on looking at ways of countering failure check out this resource:

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