Improv Rules I Use to Teach Kids About Life

I used to teach improv. It's awesome. I got paid to laugh, hang out with some of the funniest young people I have ever met, and also sneakily teach them about life.
  1. You don't have to be funny.
    This baffles them. But, there are plenty of other ways to contribute than to be THE funny person of the group. You don't have to be funny. Or smart. Or attractive. You can be all or none or some of those things on top of countless other qualities. You have so much more to contribute to the world than just those things, and it's really fun and rewarding to find out what your gifts can be.
  2. "Yes, and...."
    You can yell THIS ISN'T HAPPENING all you want, but it won't change anything. Good, bad, or in between... Accept the reality of what's happening. Once you start adding to that reality, you can enhance it, change it, or move forward.
  3. IT'S TUESDAY.
    YOU ARE NEVER TOO OLD OR TOO COOL TO GET EXCITED ABOUT THINGS. If a thing exists and it brings you joy, you are allowed to love it and celebrate it and make a big deal about it.
  4. Define your relationships.
    hahaha but seriously this is so important and will save you a ton of grief.
  5. Listen, watch, learn.
    Listen to the people you share your stage with. Watch people on their stage. Pay attention, learn from both.
  6. Support people.
    When someone is failing or struggling around you, help them. Being a dick might be funny and avoiding might be easy short term, but this is not a sustainable way to live or improvise.
  7. Your jokes are not more important than human beings.
    This is a controversial subject for comedians. Asking comics to be thoughtful about their comedic impact is often misconstrued as censorship. It's not. If we make people feel unsafe or attacked, we are doing it wrong. I know improvisers who learned the hard way doing a scene where a woman kept doing more and more ridiculous shit to avoid getting beaten by her husband in front of a girl who survived domestic abuse. If your joke is at the expense of someone else's pain, STOP.
  8. Failure happens. Try anyway.
    You will fail. That is a given. Everyone has off days. Sometimes it's coincidence and sometimes it's your fault, but it is all part of learning. If you try and try and try you will get past those failures and build things -- a scene, a career, a life-- that you are proud of.
  9. You will get better.
    Everyone starts somewhere. Whether you have a natural aptitude for this or this is painfully hard for you, I promise the more you put yourself out there and the more you open yourself to learning, you will get better at this. Better may not be the best, but it will be good.