Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Improv Rules for Living

I mentioned Tina Fey yesterday because I just finished listening to her memoir called BOSSYPANTS, and it both entertained me and depressed me.  Entertained because she is just an awesome writer.  And depressed me because I feel like an infant in both talent and experience next to her.  But whatever.  That's not the point.

The point is this.  Fey talked about how the four rules of improv changed her life and her world view.  And while I was listening to her I thought, "This is brilliant!  She's so right!"  But now, of course, I can only remember the first two rules.  This forgetting thing has been happening to me a lot, lately.  Like the other day I couldn't remember that egg dish with beans I like and order wherever I go, so I kept saying to everybody who was listening, "YOU KNOW THAT EGG AND BEAN DISH I LIKE AND ORDER WHEREVER I GO?  WHAT'S IT CALLED?  HELP ME!  HELP ME!"

(I realized in the middle of the night later on that it's "huevos rancheros."  Which also isn't the point.)

Here are the two rules I remember . . .

1.  SAY "YES."  When you do improv, you have to say yes to the premise your partner hands you in order to keep the thing going.  And in life it's good to say yes to possibilities as well.  I needed to hear this because lately I've been wanting to shut myself away and not engage, because engaging means you're gonna get your heart broken somehow.  But hello!  Look at everything you miss when you behave that way.

1.  SAY "YES AND . . ."  When you do improv, you not only need to say yes to your partner's premise, but you need to bring something to the table, too.  It's all about contributing to the community.

Good stuff, right?

Meanwhile, I'll see if I can remember the other two rules, because they were smart and useful, too.  Also meanwhile, I'm going to go eat some of that egg and bean dish I like and order wherever I go.


radagast said...

Say "yes!" to huevos rancheros. I'm with you that far, at least. Still not convinced that the positives you get from saying yes outweigh the cumulative effect of the beat-downs that come from saying yes, but, ultimately, the tally doesn't much matter, I suppose. Hmm. I could hear Eeyore's voice in my head as I was saying those words. Tigger is much more fun. All that damn bouncing. Anywho, I will go with you twain and agree that Tina is as smart and talented as anyone in the biz, right now. As is one of my favorite forgetful bloggists!

Louise Plummer said...

I love Tina Fey and you, and I watch you live by "saying yes," and see that it gives you pleasure, but learning to say no is the most liberating thing I ever learned to do.

CSIowa said...

Is the difference, Louise, that we learn to say yes to what someone else wants for themselves and to say no to the things we din't want for ourselves? Just thinking aloud here because I think yes and no are both valuable skills in their places, whatever those may be.

Anne said...

I used to get the Bob Ash Special at the Brighton Village Store. It was huevos rancheros on bagels. That was 30 year ago now...hmmm