In acting class today, we studied improvisation. There are rules, well not really rules, but guidelines when doing improvisation. After thinking about it a bit I’ve decided to incorporate these rules into not just class and improv practice but everyday conversation.
So here’s some of them for your perusal.
Yes, and This means that when someone says something to you, you reply in the affirmative AND with a statement of your own that raises the stakes, so-to-speak. You’re trying to build a metaphorical ladder, so someone makes a statement, you say “Yes, and” follow up with something that is a rung higher. This way you are both contributing to the scene and it’s going somewhere.
So, if your boss says I think you are doing a fine job on project XYZ, you respond with Yes, and I’m so good that I’m totally kicking the collective office asses of everyone here, so you’d better watch your back and your job. Just an example, apply it to where you see fit.
No questions This follows along with the first guideline. Both people need to contribute to the scene, if one person makes a statement and you follow it with a question, you are putting all the creative burden on the other person.
This one could prove difficult in Real Life, but there are ways around it. Instead of Will you help me move this really heavy couch?, just say Here, grab the other end of this couch and move it. That way it eliminates that “gray” area people have when thinking about if it’s a good idea to help you or not.
Don’t say No If someone makes a statement, don’t disagree with it or you’ll kill the scene. Also, you don’t want to get into a situation like I am holding a banana. No you’re not. Uh, yes I am. No you’re not. Yes, yes I am. Are not. etc etc
Hmmm, sometimes I need to say no, you know? If someone says Here, grab the other end of this couch and move it. I’d be all Uh, no. But if some chica caliente (or chico, to be fair to my wife) says Can I have a three-way with you and your wife? of course I should say No, but according to the new rules of conversation, I can’t! Yes. Yes you may.
Off the top of your head Say the first thing that comes to you, don’t listen to that little censor in your head that says “no, that’s stupid, don’t say that.” Usually the first thing you think of will be the most interesting.
Boy, oh, boy could this one get you in trouble. But hey, you gotta practice the rules to get better at improv and why not practice in everyday conversations? So when your wife/mother/or significant other asks if you want seconds of the meat loaf they made, just let fly the first thing that pops into your head Are you serious? I ate the first helping to be nice. If I have to eat any more of that excrement my stomach will secede from the digestive tract and create its own union at Shoney’s down the street.
There were more, but I’ll stop here. I don’t want to inundate you with new rules for your life all at once. Let me know how it works out for you.