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Surprising Lessons from Improv
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Surprising Lessons from Improv

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5 surprising lessons from improv, as told in my 5th Toastmasters speech …

5 surprising lessons from improv, as told in my 5th Toastmasters speech

Flickr photo credits:
Daniel_Gies
Turatti
NathanInSanDiego
Demandaj
Tocaboca
BrandonCWarren

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  • 5 weeks ago, I signed up for my first improv class. I had heard that it was one of the best things you can do to improve your speaking skills, which is clearly something I care about, as you can tell from my involvement with Toastmasters. While I went in with the mindset of "this is going to give me tips on speaking skills," I was surprised to learn some very different lessons, which I'd like to share with you today.http://www.flickr.com/photos/daniel_gies/5163534640/sizes/z/in/photostream/
  • Game asking for permissionGame = winners and losersTeacher stopped uslesson(What happened)played a game that involved pointing to a teammate to get "permission" to move to their spot in the circle. that was the only rule.immediately turned competitive - pausing, hesitating, simply not cooperating. but that was not the point.(What I realized)learned that it wasn't about making it difficult for your teammate.we heard "game" and thought, there must be winners and there must be losers, so this is what I'll do to make someone lose.(Lesson) the point of playing a game is not to win, it's to play. the. game.http://www.flickr.com/photos/turatti/7698409766/sizes/m/in/photostream/Alt: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeremyhiebert/7939079844/sizes/m/in/photostream/
  • Transition: we play a lot of games in improvFirst name game – feels weirdMany activities in a groupBreak down your internal filter, inhibitions – do that by doing things in a grouplesson(What happened)one of the first things we did - name game where you said your name with another word and a motion -- examples (kicking kirsten, gracious glen, super sean, energetic ellie)it definitely feels a little weirdthen you do activities where one person leads the group in some sound and motioninstantly feel less silly, everyone is doing it(What I realized)the rules of what's weird and what's not are, 1st of all, thrown out the window in improv, but 2nd of all, you start to believe that that's the case when you're all participating in the nonsensical activitiesin improv, you need to break down your inhibitions (internal filter) but it's hard to do that - one of the ways to accomplish that is to have everyone participate in weird activities because nothing seems as crazy or embarrassing when everyone's doing it(Lesson)silly is only awkward when you're the only one. get everyone involved and you instantly feel more comfortable doing crazy things.http://www.flickr.com/photos/nathaninsandiego/5972205809/sizes/m/in/photostream/
  • Transition: started doing scenes in small groupsIt’s one thing to say, do a scene. Anything. Another to say do a scene where…More direction = easierSame goes for starting a scene (examples)More obvious = easier for your scene partnerAlso more fun for the audiencelesson(What happened)It's one thing to ask you, __ & __, to do a scene. Just, do something, anything. It's another to ask you to do a scene where you're at a playground you're a mother & son. The first example if very open, but that means you have no direction and you have an overwhelming number of directions you can go. The latter example feels much easier to take and run with.The same goes for starting a scene. If I come in and do this... (example) who knows what I'm doing?But if I come in and do this.... (example) who knows what I'm doing?In that second example, it's much more obvious what I'm trying to do in this scene, it's much easier for the next person to come in and build on it, AND it's more entertaining for the audience.(What I realized)(Lesson)It may feel awkward to do big crazy sounds or motions or stances, but the bigger your action, the better. The more you add to the story for your audience, the more entertaining it will be. The more you add to the story for your fellow actors, the more they have to build upon.Bigger is better.http://www.flickr.com/photos/demandaj/6478911951/sizes/m/in/photostream/
  • Transition: what’s compelling is the commitment to a storyNot funny – TWSS – one-liner joke that took us out of the sceneFunny – Milkshake – commitmentYou have to OWN any scene you’re in, and “yes and” it“Yes and” is a key principle of improv – acknowledge previous statement and build on itBest performances = transported into a new realitylesson(What happened)Which brings me to the next lesson... what's compelling about an improv scene is the commitment to a storyWhat's funny in an improv sketch is not a joke. It's seeing something that isn't there.Example of what's not funny - TWWSExample of what's funny - Milkshake songYou have to OWN IT - whether you're a pirate or a father or an Applebee's waiterYou have to take everything said as TRUTH and "yes and" it"Yes and" is a key principle of improv... acknowledge the previous statement and build upon it(What I realized)The best performances are those when you are transported into this new reality, whether it's a space ship staffed with donkeys or a coffee shop with your friend(Lesson)Believing in the scene is one of the most powerful tactics in improvhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/tocaboca/5523595751/sizes/z/in/photostream/Alt: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kcolwell/2207223105/
  • Transition: what’s compelling is the commitment to a storyNot funny – TWSS – one-liner joke that took us out of the sceneFunny – Milkshake – commitmentYou have to OWN any scene you’re in, and “yes and” it“Yes and” is a key principle of improv – acknowledge previous statement and build on itBest performances = transported into a new realitylesson(What happened)Which brings me to the next lesson... what's compelling about an improv scene is the commitment to a storyWhat's funny in an improv sketch is not a joke. It's seeing something that isn't there.Example of what's not funny - TWWSExample of what's funny - Milkshake songYou have to OWN IT - whether you're a pirate or a father or an Applebee's waiterYou have to take everything said as TRUTH and "yes and" it"Yes and" is a key principle of improv... acknowledge the previous statement and build upon it(What I realized)The best performances are those when you are transported into this new reality, whether it's a space ship staffed with donkeys or a coffee shop with your friend(Lesson)Believing in the scene is one of the most powerful tactics in improvhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/tocaboca/5523595751/sizes/z/in/photostream/Alt: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kcolwell/2207223105/
  • Transition: final tip, which I alluded to: always be giving or adding to the scene2 key parts to “yes and”“yes” – acknowledge the truthContrast “no” example (that’s a great hat)“and” – builds on the reality we’re creatingExample of a coffee shop where nothing happensAdd specific – esp relationship and placelesson(What happened)Final tip, which I have alluded to, is that it's important in improv to always be giving"Yes and" is that key principle that acknowledges the current scene truths and builds upon it2 things stay away from - "no" and questions- stops the flow and put burden on other personmaybe sure YES and ANDadd specifics, esp relationship and place(What I realized)(Lesson)always be accepting and giving additional infohttp://www.flickr.com/photos/brandoncwarren/4164759025/sizes/z/in/photostream/
  • Play gamesBe silly with othersGo big or go homeBelieve in the imaginaryAlways give something

Transcript

  • 1. Surprising LessonsLearned from Improv
  • 2. Games are not for winning,they’re for playing.
  • 3. Silly is only awkwardwhen you’re the only one.
  • 4. Bigger isbetter.
  • 5. Believing is believable.
  • 6. • Your milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.• And they’re like, mine’s better than yours.• Damn right it is.
  • 7. Believing is believable.
  • 8. Always be giving.
  • 9. Surprising Lessons from Improv1. Play games.2. Be silly with others.3. Go big or go home.4. Believe in the imaginary.5. Always give something.