Thursday, August 30, 2012

Where accepting can lead you...

In improv we move the scene along by accepting and adding information, better known as the "Yes, and" rule. To put it into practice, here's my version of how Tom and Katie's relationship would look in an improv scene, following the "Yes, and" rule.

TOM: "Hi, I'm very rich, very famous, and very much in need of an image make-over."

KATIE: "Yes, and I'm young, naive, and very much in need of an image make-over."

TOM: "Yes, and I've been meaning to talk to you about those J. Crew and Gap outfits you wear on the red carpet."

KATIE: "Yes, and I'd be happy to wear Armani PrivĂ© if you hand over your credit cards."

TOM: "Yes, and in return you'll have to give birth to L. Ron Hubbard's frozen sperm child, say it's mine, and turn down all movie roles that challenge and fulfill you as an actress."

KATIE: "Yes, and can I have my own fashion label?"

TOM: "Yes, and only if you tell every major magazine how wonderfully I treat you and feign interest in Conor and Bella's school sporting events within our first year of dating."

KATIE: "Yes, and I want you to tell the world what an amazing woman I am, while jumping on a large and inappropriate piece of furniture."

TOM: "Yes, and I know just the person who'll let me do it - Oprah! She loves me."

KATIE: "Yes, and make sure you offend a major talk show host too, like Matt Lauer, so everyone thinks you've gone totally nuts because of me."

TOM: "Yes! And lots of PDAs, so people know I'm not...well not that I'm not...I mean, so people think I'm, you know..."

KATIE: (giggling) "Yes, and I promise to always wear flat shoes  - unless I'm out with Posh Spice..."

TOM: "Yes! YES!!! And I'll give you a fairytale wedding in Italy, and we'll live happily ever after...with my mother!"


KATIE: "Yes. (ahem) And... 5 years, max."


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Because it was there...

This evening a few improv colleagues and I performed at a farewell cocktail party for a large Swiss bank. In the after-schmoozing, we were telling people, as we always do, that "life is an improvisation".  Yes, yes, those of us who do improv regularly know that, but for improv virgins, this is a new and startling concept. It's always gratifying for me when it dawns on them that we all go through life improvising what we say, do, and how we react.

But it's more than that. For example, I'm sitting at the computer in my dining room-cum-office-cum-storage room (I still giggle when I write that word, even though in this case it's Latin). I get up to grab something, and on my way I step on a height measuring stick that belongs to my 5-year-old son. I grab what I need, walk back, step on the stick again, sit back down at my computer, and take another sip of my beer.

Now, you might be wondering what is so remarkable about this that she chose to write about it? What is remarkable is that, as an improviser, I didn't even think to move the stick. I didn't get upset that it was there, because I was focused on my immediate goal, and I just figured my 5-year-old put it there while he was playing and then ran off to do something else. Because that's what 5-year-olds do.

Do you get this, people? I stepped on the height measuring stick without complaining, without even flinching. Because we just got bunk beds today. Because stuff is in disarray around here. Because I can't be bothered right now to find the measuring stick to measure the height measuring stick with which to re-hang it because the bunk beds are now in the way of the old nail that was once hanging the height measuring stick which is now on the floor.

My point is, I stepped on it, because it was there - and everything was fine.

That's improv.