Say the obvious thing: Life lessons from improv
I attended my first improvisational theater workshop last week. Improv is all about staying present and quieting the inner doomsayer and playing with what shows up in each moment, even when it isn’t what you planned. Improv is the opposite of planning. That’s helpful for an uber-planner like me.
Some useful life skills I got to practice during the three-hour workshop:
• Be average. Don’t worry about whether your idea is funny or sufficiently creative. Say the obvious thing. Stories need the obvious to move forward. Also, what’s obvious to you may not be obvious to others. Jump in!
That means if a scene calls for a car, go ahead and be a car. You don’t have to think up a submarine or giraffe. (Although if you thought of a submarine or giraffe instead of a car, that’s cool too.)
• Let go of control. Your partner might have a different idea than you do of where the story is going. Together, you can take it in completely unexpected directions.
If you pretend to hand your partner a baby, and they say “Thank you for the cat,” and you say “No, but it’s a baby,” one of you then has to spend a lot of time explaining why it’s a (baby) and not a (cat) and the scene spirals down from there. You’ll have a lot more fun if you just go with it. (A humanoid cat?) It’s fun to share control. Seriously!
• Take a Circus Bow. When something doesn’t work, do a Ta-Da: “Yay, I failed! Yay, I let go of the trapeze! Missed the other trapeze and fell into the net! Applause for me!”
• Remember you don’t have to do it alone. Other people will step in when you’re stumped. You’re looking out for each other. You’re in good hands.