Improvisational comedy has been gaining ground for the past 15 years or so. Though its roots date back to the 16th century, the modern form of improv was introduced in the 1940’s and 50’s. Today, if you haven’t at least tried doing improv, you’re in the minority. If you are one of the people who has been curious and standing on the sidelines – let us introduce you to great reasons for you to jump in!
What is Improv?
You could say it’s a mindset, but that wouldn’t be accurate because one of the tenets of improv is to get OUT of your head. Improv is a theatrical art form where the story, characters and action are created collaboratively in the moment. There are no scripts or predetermined plots, just like in life. However, you are guided by a series of rules or guidelines that encourage more harmonious and creative play. So really taking an improv class and participating in improv exercises you are being introduced to a new way of being, of acting on life. Continued participation strengthens your ability to experience a new, more effective way of engaging in the world.
Who Can Benefit?
Often the perception about improv is that it is something only for the funny and the brave or for actors and theater types. Wrong! Anyone who wants to experience more fun, connection and living the principles of Zen-in-action, can benefit from an improv class. No one says you have to perform, but chances are once you do this stuff you won’t mind an invitation to go up on stage.
What will it do for me?
Improv massages and resurrects positive aspects of living that may have atrophied over the years. Here are just a few things improv can do for you:
- Letting Go. Most of us have been taught and reinforced that the way we get through life successfully is that we figure out how to manipulate and control it. Our motto is, “when the going gets rough- hold on tighter.” Unfortunately, that really doesn’t work. It leads only to anger, reacting with fear and negativity, denying reality and trying to change and mold it to “my way.” Then where are we? Frustrated, uptight, and unhappy. Improv teaches you to flow with what is. You will get to experience into what is placed in front of you and you will experience how to relax into it and work with it.
- Right Thinking. Are you an overthinker? Is your mind more a foe than a friend? You’re not alone. We are all taught to think things out thoroughly before acting on anything. After doing that, some of us are frozen in inaction. We’ve lost the ability to trust our instincts and impulses. The other way we misuse our brain power is to defend our positions and get locked into judgement of right and wrong. By doing improv exercises we are encouraged to “jump in” and decide. Choose. Make a choice and know that it will all be ok. There are no mistakes in improv – another powerful principle. Imagine playing with that principle over time. Improv allows you to use your brain more fully – accessing both hemispheres and shutting down the critic.
- Connect with the Fun. There was a time in your life when that was all you knew- play and fun. It’s called childhood. Kids under the age of 10 are probably the only people who don’t need an improv class. They seek play and fun in most situations- doesn’t matter if they are in class, at church or standing in line at the grocery store. Improv connects us back to our playful nature. Say hello to the fun you that got buried under the shoulds and demands of life. Play again!
- Trust. How much is fear running you right now? It’s a pretty scarey world out there. Just turn on the news for three minutes and we are reinforced that this world is a very unsafe place. Improv gets you believing in the goodness of life and people. Improv doesn’t work without an atmosphere of support and trust. Improv teaches two very key principles – take care of yourself, and take care of others. You learn that you can’t take care of others without taking care of yourself and you really can’t truly be happy and fulfilled with out serving others. Improv by it’s very nature reinforces the trust force field.
- Saying “Yes” to Life. Sometimes we can feel like that two year old that just says no to everything. That’s another way of saying “my way.” That doesn’t work in improv. It’s a moment-by-moment thing that grows by our attachment to the principle of “Yes And!” Meaning not only do we agree with what has been placed in front of us, we add to it.
- Connecting to Family. If you have the opportunity to participate in improv with members of your family- DO IT! Family improv will get you laughing, making eye contact and co-creating imaginary worlds together. As our kids get older it’s more important to do activities that engage the family toward a common and fun goal. That is what improv does.
All these things work together; as we let go, use our mind correctly to say “yes and” to life then we begin to trust and experience more joy and a liberating and invigorating sense of play.
Now who wouldn’t want more of that?
Interested in learning more about Improv? Come to our Family Improv Night on October 7th, 2016. Tickets can be purchased : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/family-improv-night-v20-tickets-27719759547
Written by: Pam Farone
Pam Farone is a career coach and improv instructor focused on creating joyful careers and happy work environments.