After a year of Theatric Improv Training, I’ve learned a few things about creativity and collaboration, lessons that work throughout life. As a professional speaker and trainer, I bring these Improv principals to audiences who want to learn to be better team players and to be more creative in their day.
Today, I’d like to ask you to say yes. You see, saying “Yes, let’s” is the very first and most basic rule of not only improv but of creation.
Scene 1: “Geez, doctor, I have a tomahawk in my foot!”
“No, you don’t and I’m not a doctor.”
Scene over. The “doctor” blocked the scene, he had predetermined where he wanted the scene to go and didn’t trust his partner enough to go with the “offer” of a tomahawk in the foot. He probably had a perfectly funny idea in mind for the scene and got locked in. (Maybe he thought it would be funny if the patient was delusional, but how would his partner know that? Improv requires you to go with an idea and see where it takes you.)
How many times do you block or get blocked during the day? I bet, once you pay attention, it is more than you might realize. Sometimes we even block ourselves, we kill inspiration before we let it blossom.
I think creative ideas can come from anything and anyone. When corporate rank, office politics, and people who don’t listen get involved, creativity gets blocked. Improv exercises can teach us to be better team players, to go with an idea until it logically ends, no matter how absurd it might seem at first.
“Orville, I think we can make a bicycle that flies.”
“Wilbur, I’m not paying you to dream, I’m in charge of this business and we are doing just fine. No customer has walked in this door and asked for a flying machine. Our customer survey data doesn’t support your idea. Our compliance department would never approve it.”
Orville, of course, must have said “Yes, let’s” at some point, he accepted the offer and followed it to a conclusion.
Comedic Improv isn’t about one liners or jokes, in fact, “jokes” are actually discouraged, we are trained to go with the situation and the funny will happen. Someone who works in a bad joke is mocked by other Improvers, we appreciate generosity, enthusiasm and good listening skills. (Who doesn’t?) Improv is not Standup Comedy, people who hog the spotlight are not respected. What happens if the doctor accepts the offer and says, “Let’s yes!” Accepting someone else’s offer might mean letting go of our idea and our ego, if only for a while.
“Doctor, I have a tomahawk in my foot!”
Now, that my friends, is funny. (Ok, maybe you had to be there, but no blocking occurred). The doctor has used the double meaning of the word “How” to give the patient many directions to develop the scene. He was funny and a team player.
In Improv, once you say it, it is real, your partners need to work with it or the scene is toast. My 15 year old son has learned this principal and our time together includes a lot of Improv, Improv actually helps me communicate with a sometimes sullen teenager. One of us makes an absurd observation and it is game on, we are running our own little scene, stopping only to laugh. (It’s good to laugh.) We are also communicating, listening, brainstorming and creating. We are acknowledging possibilities and collaborating: something Fathers and Sons (and anyone else) can stand to do more of.
Encourage creativity. Say YES, create a scene today.