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6Feb, 2013

Lessons from Improv

Morgan Schmidt teaching at Open BostonSo, I’m sitting in Morgan Schmidt’s workshop on Saturday at OpenBoston, and caught this nugget as something that I will likely be working with a lot…

Morgan suggested that our interactions on discussions with faith with young people can all be lifted from Tina Fey’s 4 and 1/2 rules of improv

Rule 1. The first rule of improvisation is to AGREE. Saying “no” grinds invention, innovation (and improv) to a screeching halt. Obviously in real life you’re not always going to agree with what everyone says. But saying YES reminds you to respect what your partner has created and to start from an open-minded place. Start with a YES and see where that takes you.

Rule 2. The second rule of improve is to not only say YES, say YES, AND. In improv, you agree and then add something of your own. If your partner starts with, “I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,” and you just say “Yeah…” the skit has stalled. But if you respond with, “What did you expect? We’re in hell!” things keep moving forward.

Rule 3. The next rule is MAKE STATEMENTS. Don’t respond with questions. Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles. Speaking Valley Girl (ending every statement with a “?”) does not work, either. Instead of saying, “Where are we?” make a statement like “Here we are in Spain, Dracula.” This may be a terrible start, but it leads us to the best rule:

Rule 4. THERE ARE NO MISTAKES only OPPORTUNITIES. The next big laugh is just around the corner, as well as beautiful happy accidents. Many of the world’s great discoveries have been an accident. Bad glue created sticky notes (Post-It® Notes). A bad test for a medicine for hypertension created the right medicine for erectile dysfunction (Viagra®). Both true!

There is a video link here which covers the above starting around the 3:30 mark.  Fey says she uses the above as a philosophical approach to her life and I can see that.  I certainly appreciate the positive attitude of it all.

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