When in doubt, ad lib

I’m just talking off the top of my head here, but I miss performing improv comedy.

Writing humour is satisfying, sure — especially that special moment when you see your name on a paycheque in a newspaper. But the delayed, distant feedback can make you feel like you have fewer readers than the iTunes service agreement.

In contrast, and as Mitt Romney would tell you, there’s no greater thrill than the instant response you receive when you get on stage and make stuff up.

If you’re not aware, improvisation is a form of theatre that has spawned many comedic troupes, some serious theatre, certain art-house films and the Iraq war.

Generally, the idea is simply to make things up on the spot, often with an audience suggestion, which in theory can be absolutely anything, but which in practice is always “sex,” “horny,” “circus,” “bus stop” or “spatula.”

If that sounds like kids’ stuff, rest assured there are some deep lessons to be learned.

For instance, one of the improv rules you organically discover is “Don’t try to be funny.” Some would argue I’ve mastered that.

But the point is that humour should arise from strong characters and a well-told story. When you tell a conventional punchline joke during improv the audience reply is a rising-then-falling “aaAAAaah” sound, which means “Clever. Not funny. But clever. Now be funny.”

Another improv life lesson, perhaps the most important one, is to accept what the world gives you.

If another actor turned to you on stage and said, “Hi, Donald Trump!” then your natural, human reaction would be to punch him in the throat. But improv teaches you that scenes work best if you accept every suggestion — so you scowl in a Trumpian manner and wonder what it must be like to know that even a billion dollars isn’t enough for a decent hairpiece.

When you accept what the scene gives you and don’t try too hard, then everything that happens is “right,” the possibilities are endless, and things naturally fall into place. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

Improv is fun, challenging and, yes, can give you a better outlook on life. I think you should try it.

And if you don’t have the energy or gumption or whatever excuse you’re using not to do it, just remember what an audience member once told me during an introspective moment: “Horny!”

Words to live by.

Follow John Mazerolle on Twitter




News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Local

De Blasio, Bratton defend city's efforts after Eric…

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.