Improv skills lead to success

Connections and Revelations

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Del Close, the legendary improv director, once said: “Where do the best laughs come from? Terrific
connections made intellectually or terrific revelations made emotionally.”

A well-rounded player can take both approaches, but so many players rely on one approach to the exclusion of the other. I’m definitely on the intellectual side of that equation. For many years, I didn’t pay much attention to how I (or my character) felt about what happened in scenes. Instead, I focused on the “what” of the scene and tried to explore it instead of the character interactions. I’ve definitely become a more successful player, both as an individual and as part of a group, now that I’ve added some emotional range to my work.

Other performers I’ve worked with focus so much on emotional connections that they ignore the substance of the scene. Not reacting to an offer to explore the “what” of the scene is just as much of a denial as my reluctance to engage on an emotional level.

You’ll often run into the same split in business environments. Many executives disdain the emotional side of decision-making and choose to focus on the numbers. I think most of this approach is due to the fear that allowing emotions to affect them implies they can be manipulated. Marketing and sales professionals try to get their customers to engage emotionally, so their approach is often at odds with those of their technical and executive teams.

What’s the best combination of emotion and number sense? There’s no set formula, just experience and the intangible ability to judge which moves to make. Just be ready to meet your team members on their own ground every now and then.

Written by curtisfrye

September 2, 2012 at 8:45 pm

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