Good People

I’ve always tried to not ascribe to cliches,  and I usually roll my eyes when people say them and spend the rest of the conversation retweeting Nietzsche.  Well, that’s what I would do if I had a smart phone and if improv hadn’t made me a better person. Guys and gals, improv making people better at empathizing with the human condition is a cliche I can super get behind. I almost never write about what I spend a majority of my free time doing, so I thought I’d give it a go.

Improv made me realize we, as humans, are all pretty weak in the listening department. I’m not just talking hearing words, but also feeling them via body language, eye contact and subtle inflection. Listening is asking a friend if they are stretched too thin because you noticed they’ve been drinking a lot of Red Bull. That might sound creepier than it is, but truly listening and empathizing with people is a beautiful thing because it shows that you genuinely care and are actively trying to understand and support the people in the world around you. It’s also an act of just being present.

One of my go-tos in improv scenes is a hug because I feel like it shows the vulnerability of the characters we are playing. Plus, there is so much comedy in hugs. I did a scene with two hunchbacks who were tired of being rejected. Sad, but little is more funny than the tension the audience experiences when they are watching two severely hunched over players trying to hug and maintain their physicality. Can they do it? Yes, but it might be the most awkward hug you’ll ever see. That point being that Improv taught me to be so attuned with other people that I know when a completely made up character needs a hug, which really helps you figure out when your real friends might need one with utmost accuracy.

I have so much more to say on this topic, but I’ll save it for another time.

In other news, I was watching Bill Cunningham: New York last night and I found it very touching to see someone dedicate his life to his passion without thinking twice about the things he might be missing out on. His confidence in feeling like he is doing the right thing for him despite his unconventional lifestyle is the most beautiful thing i’ve seen in awhile. I also respect anyone with that strong a sense of ethics and humility. It reminded me that art is at its most powerful when it’s actually about the art and not the artist.

Awkward Hugs///



31 thoughts on “Good People

  1. mistylayne says:

    Improv is incredibly hard (especially for me as I get flustered and self-conscious). You make a really excellent point about listening though – I’d never thought about it that way.

      1. sorrygnat says:

        sort of Jungian concept – moved to Valley in CA, we all have different aspects of self; i have an Eloise in Paris type of brat in me, a wise self, a scaredy cat, a pleaser, a standup comic self; does that help

  2. kaycee says:

    That part about dedicating one’s life to his passion got me. I am on the verge of resigning from my day Job to focus on writing. I am scared to death. Still, everything tells me to DO IT!

    1. ashleyjillian says:

      I totally feel you and have been toying around with the idea myself, but I also know that for me personally I want to up myself a few levels confidence, performance and connections wise before I make the jump. Good luck with everything! Also, you should totally watch Bill Cunningham: New York

  3. Gladys Hobson says:

    Hugging is a nice friendly thing to do. Unfortunately some people of my generation find it embarrassing. I tread carefully.
    Just a brief comment on the print size and colour. If I find it incredibly hard to read (quite stressful in fact), I’m sure others visiting might find the same. Of course I do have sight problems but so do others who are not as young as the average blogger. Not meant to be critical but, hopefully, helpful.

  4. Austin Bishop says:

    I absolutely love improv. I don’t think there is a better way to meet like-minded people than to have a show where you give awkward hugs or find yourself in a strange position or scenario with another person. Reading this reminded me how much I miss doing it on a regular basis.

  5. Typehype says:

    Great post. As an introvert, I’m in awe of anyone who can get up in front of a crowd and do improv. So, bravo to you! Almost every morning, I pass by Bill Cunningham on the the corner of 57th and 5th on the way to work. There’s someone you just want to hug.

  6. Gray says:

    You might be interested to look into Meisner Technique… a whole new level of listening. You might enjoy it. It rocked my world (in a good way)

  7. Majordomo Pain says:

    You do comedy, We, Ourselves, do politics. The best of both worlds. Keep up the good work, We truly enjoy your art.

    Qu’ul cuda praedex nihil!

  8. daisyquaker says:

    I like hugs, I think improv allows you to be a more self conscious of your actions.. You might have these sorts of conversations in real life, but you wouldn’t be as aware of how you behave as you would on stage when you’re on the spot. Just a thought.

  9. etomczyk says:

    AJ: You’re so right about improv. When I was your age (a gazillion years ago), I was part of a troupe of actors who constantly did improv just to learn how to listen instead of falling into the trap of only concentrating on our responses, rather than connecting soul-to-soul to what the other person was doing or saying. It helps me with my writing today. When I’m writing dialogue (especially comedy), I will write the piece from the other characters viewpoint first and see what happens with my natural unscripted responses. Often times I get an entirely different ending and meaning to a piece doing it that way. I actually speak the dialogue of the characters that don’t represent my viewpoint out loud and respond, in kind, out loud. It is really quite liberating and it produces better material which is less predictable.

    Hope you get your computer fixed soon (or a new one). Cheers. ET

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