In the fall of 1997, I was a lonely girl on the campus of one of the biggest party schools in the nation. My first few weeks at the University of Wisconsin at Madison were miserable. One day, while walking up State Street, I saw a flyer for a local improvisational comedy troupe that was offering classes.
Those improv classes basically changed my life. I looked forward to them more than any of my college courses. I had finally found my people. And my mentor. The workshop teacher and the artistic director of the improv troupe saw something in me. And he invited me to join the company.
Performing improv in college was the most fun I’ve ever had. I made all of my close friends, and most of my boyfriends, through it. But it was more than just a social network. It became a way of life, a way to face the world and make sense of it. Improv taught me how to be a better writer, a better performer, a better communicator, a better listener, and a better version of myself.
If you don’t have the time to devote decades of your life to improvisational comedy like I have, let me briefly explain one of the tenets of improv and how it applies to relationships. Improv is all about saying Yes and…
In order to get up on stage and create a scene from nothing with another person, you have to remain in a positive, receptive mindset and say yes.
But you can’t just sit there saying yes to whatever your scene partner offers you—that would be boring and your partner would be doing all of the work! You have to build the scene by offering your own idea that builds upon your partner’s idea by saying (or thinking) Yes and.
Now that you’ve got the basic idea, I’ll apply it to society at large. This may seem simplistic, but there are four basic types of people in the world: