I imagine that a big obstacle for many improvisers is learning to trust their comedic instinct. I had a problem along these lines, but coming from a different perspective: I trusted my comedic instinct, but came to feel as if I ought to ignore my comedic instinct because of the language of my instructors and many of my peers.
Often I’d hear people say, “don’t go for the joke,” “don’t worry about being funny,” and even, “I’m glad I don’t have to worry about being funny.” For me, this was weird because what drew me to improv was that it made me laugh and that I liked making people laugh. But as class after class passed, I noticed phrases like, “laughter will come organically,” and, “be honest,” were used a lot more often than, “comedic instinct,” or, “be funny,” with the latter seemingly actively avoided. The result was that my comedic instinct began to appear to me as inorganic and dishonest because if my comedic instinct were honest and organic why was it not being described as such?
Of course, no one had said that comedic instinct was to be ignored (or that my comedic instinct was lackluster). In fact, when I began to ask instructors and performers I respected about comedic instinct, everyone said it was very important. They had also stressed that the comedic instinct was to be followed so long as it didn’t sacrifice the reality of the scene.
So now I will embrace my comedic instinct more fully as opposed to using it shamefully, as if I was doing improv wrong by following those thoughts in my head and those feelings in my chest that told me, “It would be funny if….”