Rehearsing Improv: It’s not a contradiction and it’s not funny.

I would not describe myself as a naturally witty or hilarious person. I’ve never been the class clown and in all the theater practice I’ve had, I’ve memorized my lines so well that I can still remember them from 6th grade plays.

So, I was sure that during my first SXSW panel – Improv Classes – I would be forced on stage in front of hundreds of people and have to riff on a picture of a pencil and turn it into a comedy train. I sure as hell didn’t want to do that, but I selfishly wanted to see other people try.

When I walked in I was somewhat relieved not to see members of the audience standing on stage, but also surprised at how seriously the speaker was talking about improv. Wasn’t this supposed to be funny?

While the presentation wasn’t the rip-roaring comedy I was expecting, I learned how improv can help open our minds in order to find more creative solutions – say no to saying no.

As children, we are taught what is right and what is wrong. We always want to be right and in trying so hard to please that need, we say no to “wrong” ideas. By doing this we close off the floodgates to ideas that might lead us in a different direction, thus dwindling the amount we are able to come up with. While doing improve, you are forced to accept the information you are given without time to listen to your internal monologue saying no. Without “no” we are able to find better and more interesting ideas.

This doesn’t mean I’m going to turn into Jim Carrey from YES MAN, but I am going to put these practices to use and hopefully be able to dig a little deeper.

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