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Sunday, May 8, 2011

It's an improv world... and some of us just don't get it.

I think Tina Fey has come to save us all.

She is the best 'comedian/writer/Jill of all laughter' around... and she has an idea on how to live better, have more fun and reduce that ugly body fat.

In her first (only) book, Bossypants (best cover ever), she has a light-hearted 'take' on something significant. If life is not scripted but an improvisation, how come we keep killing the skit?

In the book, she reveals The Rules of Improvisation That Will Chage Your Life and Reduce Belly Fat. Her experience comes from her time at Chicago's famous improvisational comedy show, Second City, and of course, her job as head writer and performer on Saturday Night Live, and now, 30 Rock.

"The first rule of improvisation" she says, "is AGREE. Always agree and SAY YES. When you're improvising, this means you are required to agree with whatever your partner has created. So if we're improvising and I say, 'Freeze, I have a gun,' and you say, 'That's not a gun. It's your finger. You're pointing your finger at me,' our improvised scene has ground to a halt. But if I say 'Freeze, I have a gun!' and you say, 'The gun I gave you for Christmas! You bastard!' then we have started a scene because we have AGREED that my finger is in fact a Christmas gun... ' The rule of agreement reminds you to respect what your partner has created. Start with a YES and see where that takes you."

"As an improviser, I always find it jarring when I meet someone in real life whose first answer is no. 'No, we can't do that.' 'No, that's not in the budget.' 'No, I will not hold your hand for a dollar.' What kind of way is that to live?"

The second rule "is not only to say yes, but YES, AND. You are supposed to agree and then add something. If you start a scene with 'I can't believe it's so hot in here,' and you say, 'Yeah...' we're kind of at a standstill. But if I say, 'I can't believe it's so hot in here,' and you say, 'What did you expect? We're in hell.' Or if I say, "I can't believe it's so hot in here,' and you say, 'Yes, this can't be good for the wax figures...' "

You get the idea?

Next rule: "MAKE STATEMENTS. this is a positive way of saying, 'Don't ask questions all the time.' If we're in a scene and I say, 'Who are we? What are we doing here? What's in that box?' I'm putting pressure on you to come up with all the answers. In other words" Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don't just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles."

And lastly, 'THERE ARE NO MISTAKES, only opportunities... beautiful happy accidents."

Just think... if Eve held up a pretend apple and said to Adam,  "Try this. The snake gave it to me." And Adam said "Yes, it looks good and I think I would love Granny Smith's, if I knew what they were, but I've heard apples give you goiters." Then Eve, walking on, says, "A goiter must be like an original sin." Then, it's a whole new ball game. You either have a life or a catechism lesson.

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