Six Things Improv Taught Me About Life and Business (part 3)

So, this is the last post of this series of the 6 Things I Learned from Improv. If you’d like to read the first two posts, you can find part one here and part two here.

Starting from where I left off . . .

5. Don’t waffle

Waffling is the exact opposite of the situation I discussed in the second rule. Instead of forcing a scene or a punchline, people who waffle simply refuse to make a decision. They don’t add anything solid to a scene, instead staying in the realms of ambiguity and uncertainty. Essentially, it’s like having a performer that has one foot in the scene and one foot running back to their chair. And while the scene won’t necessarily be ruined, someone who is waffling sticks out like a sore thumb.

The lesson for life is easy – commit to things. Always be in the moment, always give what you’re doing or involved with everything you’ve got. Just as in my example about the group presentation, someone who isn’t as dedicated or involved in a project will easily stick out to those who are paying attention, much to the detriment to the group.

6. Rule of three

The rule of three is an idea that stretches over many different topics. In storytelling, there always needs to be a beginning, middle, and end. In public speaking, speeches often have three main points, and many popular slogans have three parts.  In comedy and our improv class, the rule of three refers to the fact that generally, things are funny three times. The first time, something is just funny. The second time, it’s funny because the audience is reminded of the joke, and the joke itself is still pretty funny. The third time, the audience laughs because they weren’t expecting to be reminded of the joke, so the humor is more in the surprise. But, a curious thing happens after that. The fourth time the performer brings the joke up, it’s not funny anymore. The humor of the joke is worn through, and there’s no more surprise. The audience is expecting it.

The lesson I drew out of this particular idea is that you can only ride on previous success for so long. If you’re not constantly adding and expanding your repertoire and abilities, you’ll quickly become irrelevant.

And those are the six lessons that I learned from improv!

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