“To me YES, AND means don’t be afraid to contribute. Always make sure you’re adding something to the discussion. Your initiations are worthwhile.”
- Tina Fey
The picture above was taken Friday night at the DeMaat Theater, a stage at the Second City. Does it look like I was having fun? Hopefully so, because I was having a blast!
Since January I’ve been taking improv classes, as a way to get out of my own head and try something different. It has been incredible. I have the honor of goofing off for 3 hours every Tuesday night with 14 talented, genuine, amazing people who are now dear friends. This past term, our teacher Jay was one of the most supportive and fun people I’ve ever met. He taught us that mistakes are not mistakes, but “happy accidents” and “gifts”. And about support. That no matter what, my job when I’m out there is to make my scene partner(s) look the best they can.
One of the best ways to do this is to always, unconditionally say yes. I have a gopher on my head? Heck yes, I do. And it gives a great scalp massage. Very soothing.
That’s the other part – and. When you say yes, you not only agree, but you add to the idea and create synergy with your partner. It’s a philosophy that I’ll take with me through the rest of my life. And it’s fun! Not fighting about your idea or mine, but embracing whatever comes and exploring where it goes.
So, Friday was the culmination of our 3rd term, level C. It was a 20 minute demonstration where we played a few improv games and invited friends and family to watch. The thought of being on stage it front of a room full of people was nerve-wracking, but once I stepped on stage it was nothing but joy. Watching my friends play and be brilliant was a great time. I was in the last group and was rearing to go. My team went and did a nice job (you can check out the video below, if you’re so inclined). We got some laughs and had a lot of fun. It went by so fast, it seemed like the blink of an eye. Afterwards, everyone was very complimentary and super nice.
But the actual performance wasn’t the best part of the night. We met an hour before to warm up. This “warm up” actually turned out to be one of the most positive experiences of my life. We didn’t play any games or goof off. What Jay had us do was stand in a circle. Then, one person entered the circle and stood in front of each of the others on the outside, receiving honest feedback on how good they are. Having a group of people who you respect and care about tell you just how great they think you are – genuinely, without sarcasm or any kind of agenda – is…well, it’s actually pretty hard to put into words how it made me feel. Warm, maybe. Happy, definitely. And it was such a pleasure to get to compliment everyone else. It’s not often you get to be that open and honest with others.
I can’t wait to continue on and complete the final two terms of improv at the Second City. There are a few folks in my class that may be coming to a stage near you soon!
Make it a great week all!
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