The best improvisation (improv) actors and actresses, like Canadian Mike Myers, but especially those in theater games, will tell you that it’s simple in a philosophical sense. You only had one rule and that rule was also the key to success.
You can’t deny another person’s reality, you can only build on it.
That is, whatever someone said or did, you have to accept it and build on it, not contradict it because it stops everything in its tracks. However, I would be willing to bet main reason most people have trouble doing improv is that it’s more natural for them to contradict than to accept. Most times we don’t get something, we stop to clarify if we say anything at all. Most times we don’t agree, we stop to assert ourselves if we say anything at all, which you have to in improv to avoid one person dominating the act. It’s just hard for a lot of us to obey that rule because contradiction is done so commonly these days that it is second nature to us, if not always but maybe not ever to the same extent today given people are given voice on so many medium. You have to act to act right, basically, and that acting to be something rather than believing it it so you do it second nature will give you away as a fraud or bad actor to an audience.
Not being well versed in improv theatre, when I heard Mike Mayers say the improv mantra on the Bravo channel a few Sundays ago during an episode of Inside the Actor’s Studio, I was blown away and thought wouldn’t that be a nice thing to embrace more often?
I didn’t think it was something to do all the time like the mantra. I love debate, but I also believe in giving things a chance and opening one’s mind, and this definitely allows that if I only would embrace it more often… as well as others around me.
Coincidentally, four days later, on TED.com, my favourite learning source these days, the video below was put up. It was of humorist, writer and trickster Emily Levine talking about a lot of things in her Theory of Everything, “intelligent comedy” format style. In this superbly philosophical and hilarious talk, she philosophized a thought similar to mine of said improv mantra being a great ethic for a society.
How these things played into my mind, I don’t know, but last week, I came up with the idea to try acting classes as my new thing to try this year. I looked up local acting classes and found one, Intro to Theatre Acting, which is improv style stuff, not scripted acting like on film. Fortunately for me, it started yesterday so I didn’t have to wait long to get into things before my enthusiasm might have faded.
Then I came home and saw that WordPress.com came out with a great announcement of how to embed TED videos into your post easily. Thanks, WordPress folks, and keep up the phenomenal work! This TED news to WP was the trifecta of the perfect storm for me to create this post and share this very thought provoking and gut choking talk so I hope you will have a look, listen and enjoy.
Be warned, though! I’ve told you. This is intelligent humour! If you don’t think it’s funny, either check your intelligence, anatomy for a humour bone or both!
Check the TED.com category on my blog for other posts where I’ve shared my favourite TED videos with some blog material. Otherwise, see my full collection of TED videos I liked enough to share on my Vodspot vlog. Or just see what I’ve viewed recently (and others through this blog) via the Vodspot plugin WordPress allows at right.
Can you tell I LOVE TED? 🙂