Improv Comedy Tricks That Help You Get Ahead in Real Life, Too

Improv Comedy Tricks That Help You Get Ahead in Real Life, Too

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Sarah Landrum
Feb 3, 2017

Have you ever given a well-timed response or innovative idea on the spot at a business meeting or dinner party? Everyone nods in approval and laughs at your funny story. The boss gives you a raise and the hostess at the dinner party slips you her most treasured secret recipe. The light reflects off your brilliant white teeth and sparkling eyes that seem to know everything, yet assume nothing.

This could happen... maybe if you were a hero in a movie. But you're not. So instead, you roll over in bed, sigh and return to the Land of Nod.

But let's go back for a second to that moment where you were thinking "This could happen…" There's some brilliance hidden there—anything you imagine is possible if you simply believe in it and have fun with it.

This is the nature of improv comedy which celebrities like Amy Poehler and Bill Murray have helped make popular. The rules of improv can be used to help you overcome anxiety and make you come alive during spontaneous interactions, allowing your nervous ticks to fade and let the real you (the best you) come out naturally and smoothly. These improv rules also help you get involved, get ahead of the game, boost your mood and give you a better perspective on life when you're able to embrace them in day-to-day life.

Don't believe me? Just give it a try. (See? You're going with the flow already!) Here are a few improv comedy tricks you can use right now to relieve tension, live in the now, and accomplish your dreams for the future:

Go with it

Improv exercises usually consist of two or more people, with no time to talk and plan. This means you have to tune into a situation quickly and respond accordingly. You just have to go with it.

This is like playing a game of imagination as a child where you're a weird combination of a princess, an alien and a dragon, until you suddenly become a mountain someone has to climb. No matter how ridiculous a situation seems, when you let assumptions go and flow with the moment, life is much easier and your mindset more creative and fluid.

"Yes, and…"

This is a good verbal exercise to keep lines exchanging and activities flowing in an improvisation. It's also a great exercise to keep the flow of conversation going and get your word in (especially in a brainstorm session), without seeming like you're butting in. Your "yes" acknowledges, affirms and encourages another viewpoint, while your "and" adds something to the mix.

It takes just two seconds and a bit of confidence to utilize. Chime in with "yes, and..." at a business meeting, PTA meeting or over coffee with gregarious friends. Remember, you're adding to the mix, not tearing down or ignoring someone else.

Be Specific

Being vague leads to miscommunication and in improv it could bring the action to a halt. Instead, comedians try to give specific details to set up a scene: "We're eating chocolate-mint ice cream on Venus watching the World Series of Mouse Racing. How do you feel about that ice cream on such a hot day, Bob?"

Perhaps you also feel like you're networking on a hot planet, too, and the walls are closing in. All you need to do is breathe, flow with the situation and be specific. Give details about who, what, where, why and when to score a new deal, plan an important date or make a new contact. Tell the specifics about what you want out of life, and you'll be more likely to go after it and receive what you desire.

You see, the rules of improv comedy are not so different from the rules of life! If you can learn to embrace them, you'll laugh and play more, get better at embracing change and learn to live in the moment. What's not to love about that?

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