Thursday, March 1, 2012

"Yes And…."

Remember "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" (WLIIA). It was an amazing show comprising a panel of 4 improvisational actors who create scenes and songs on the spot….yes...without a script. Although they made it look easy-breezy, the truth is that this is an art that takes a lot of practice. Ironic? Not so much! Read on…

Obsessed with how talented the cast is in WLIIA, I did a little research and came across one of the institutions in NYC that is dedicated to this art. Magnet Theater, located in the heart of Manhattan offered a hefty 2 hour free "Intro to Improv" class designed to help you understand the very basics of the art. I took it with the very talented (and completely adorable), Rick Andrews. Rick took us through a few basic exercises that helped us feel comfortable with each other and build a dynamic that was quite intuitive. My favorite was when we got to rant about an actual pet peeve in an…*drumroll, please* orchestra type format. In case you were wondering, mine was about how Joe, my boyfriend, squeezes my toothpaste tube in the middle instead of all way at the end like normal people do. Drives me INSANE!

Improv is a team sport with words as our building blocks, if you will! It's a joint effort that plays off the other person's energy and honest reactions that makes it so funny and relatable. One of the techniques is the "Yes, and…" can be applied to our everday lives. This technique is particularly helpful in carrying a conversation especially in a new setting like networking. "Yes, and…"essentially holds an offer that your conversation partner has made as true and you must add to the conversation and build on it. Picture this in a networking situation...It's just genius!!
Rick Andrews teaching his class

Here are some other things I learnt at improv:
  • How to be an active listener so that you're able to create and hold a meaningful conversation with who could possibly be your next boss
  • How to get to know yourself better and be yourself (more often, that is)
  • How it's important to pay closer attention to body language and subtext

Now, I am not an actor/performer of any sort but I respect the people who study their art devotedly. Particularly, comedy, I think, is a noble profession. You have to be daring enough to go up there and attempt to make people laugh. It's not guaranteed that your audience will be laughing at all. Plus, you know some self-centered, wise guy in the audience will inevitably challenge the comic, and let's be honest, which puts a damper everyone's night and also makes that 2 drink minimum seem like a blessing!

For the full experience, sign up for your free class at Magnet Theater and then the Improv 101 like me. It's fun and I bet you'll thank me!

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