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LAUGHTER

Laugher can be a fun, therapeutic, healing, relaxing and enjoyable. It is an easy way to change our mood. For the last few years I have been attending comedy improv workshops. Although, it is way outside my comfort zone and something I would not have imagined myself doing, I have enjoyed it and I particularly like the philosophy behind our interactions.

JUST SAY YES

One of the key principle is to say ‘yes’ to whatever comes up. So if someone say to me, “Hello, Mary, that’s a shocking pink hat you’re wearing,” then I say yes and I am Mary in a pink hat.

MAKE YOUR PARTNER LOOK GOOD

The emphasis is on making our partners look good. Offering a line that gives our partner a funny response is what makes the comedy work. Being generous, helpful and supportive is how scenes develop.

LISTEN

It is difficult to be funny using a preconceived idea. Most of the time the humour is in the moment. It arrives by itself, often from apparently no-where. We can encourage this by just listening to our partners. The more we hear and understand the dialogue the easier it is to find something to say, just when we need it.

SPONTANEOUS

A lot real life humour comes spontaneously out of everyday occurrences. Life is funny so there is often no need to work at contriving to be funny. Being open, relaxed, carefree, uninhibited and expressive are enough.

NATURAL, AUTHENTIC SELF

The is so much humour in our habits, idiosyncrasies, hypocrisies, eccentricities, self induced fears, misunderstandings, anxieties, assumptions, cultures, upbringings, emotional responses and reactions that there really is no need to put on any kind of act. We can be our natural authentic self and be incredibly amusing. It is all already there if we are open to laughing at ourselves.

NO BLOCKING

It is easy to get into the habit of blocking other people’s view. Feeling the need to dismiss someone’s opinion, be contrary, undermine, denigrate or disparage can become endemic in society and social interaction. Being able to take a ‘yes and…’ approach to conversation is refreshingly supportive, constructive and creative. This is a important part of building stories in comedy improv.

BEING DESCRIPTIVE

Developing a scene comes from being descriptive. Creating names, relationships, imaginary clothing, places, professions, gender, age, health conditions, physical attributes all contribute to colourful, vivid, engaging scenes. Interestingly being descriptive in general helps us move away from being judgemental.

LOSE YOUR IDENTITY

It is easy to lose our identity during comedy improv as we take on whatever character is offered to us. All those years of carefully constructing an identity that we rely on to get us through life can disappear in one scene. Over time this potentially encourages us to be less attached to an identity in general.

TEAM PLAYER

Comedy improv relies on being part of a team. Sometimes we might just provide an essential link to another act, be the fall guy, or be the person that makes someone shine. Working flexibly with a comedy team helps us learn to share and play our part in the enjoyment of the whole experience.

TRUST

One of the biggest challenges for me with comedy improv has been (and still can be) to trust in myself. If I can trust that when I am in the moment, listening and feeling free, I will have something to say when the time comes, then I can relax and enjoy the improv. Fear and self doubt is what often freezes us. This can be based on unfounded assumptions of what other people think of us. It is a wonderful feeling to be free of it.

Simon Brown, London,