Improve Your Life With Improv

Colin Mochrie. Ryan Stiles. Wayne Brady.

Those names will be familiar to any comedy fan who grew up in the 90s.

Who knew “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” would still be inciting laugh riots 25 years after its inception in 1988, returning to the CW this week with a brand new season of improv comedy.

You may think “Whose Line” is just asgoofy comedy show. But I think the two golden rules of improv can radically improve your everyday life.

The first key to improv is simple: Just say yes.

When you take an improve class the most important lesson you learn is when starting a scene, you must say yes to whatever happens. No matter what your partner in the scene says, you must go along with it.

Saying no kills the momentum of comedy. It stops a scene dead in its tracks.

Think about the tried and true “Whose Line” Superheroes sketch. Heres’ a refresher for you:

(Click Here if you can’t see the video above)

Each actor comes in one at a time and gives a superhero name to the next actor to enter the scene.

Can you imagine if one of the new superheroes in the scene just said no to the suggestion of his fellow actors? Comedy would die.

Instead the actors just go with it, no matter how crazy their suggested superhero name may be.

You can’t twist what kind of twist the world will throw at you today. The world spits in the face of the script you’ve written.

When your script falls apart, there are two options. You can stay stuck in your ways, arms crossed out of frustration. refusing to adapt to the unexpected

You can live palms up and out, saying yes to whatever God puts before you. You can embrace the chaos. You can improvise.

So after you’ve decided to improvise, playing along with what life brings you, what comes next?

Improv comedy grows from the art of escalation. An improv actor doesn’t stop at just saying yes.

The second rule of improve is you must always say “Yes, and…”.

Not only do you accept what the other actor has to offer. You add to it.

If someone bursts onto the scene and asks, “Have you seen what The Midtown Burglar did?” You answer “Yes, and did you see those snakeskin boots he was wearing? Impeccable fashion taste, don’t you think?”

Once you begin to accept whatever the scenes in life bring you, you can begin adding something to them. You don’t just say “yes” to your circumstances. You try to build upon them.

Even if the scene is dying, you follow through. You keep trying until you get to the conclusion. You trust even the failures are teaching you something.

Life is unscripted. You can try to plan it, but eventually the world will try to wreck your scene.

Instead of refusing to play along, try adding the two rules of improv to your life. Make everyday an improv exercise.

After all, the strangest twists and turns in life can become the most memorable and rewarding scenes.

What do you think would happen if you said, “Yes, and…” to the scenes you’re placed in today? 


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