September 20, 2009

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Improv 201, class 2: This is going to be tough

“Be meaner!”

“Umm… Your beard is fuzzy!”

I have a feeling that improv is going to take a bit more work.

We started the second class of Improv 201 with a drill called “Compliments,” where we complimented a person and the person responded by validating the compliment and adding more information on top of that. For example, if you complimented a person on his shoes, he might name the specific kind of shoe or where he got it. Made-up information was perfectly okay. That part was easy.

Then we moved to “Insults”, where we insulted people. Instead of reacting defensively, they were to accept the insult with open arms and be proud of it, adding even more information.

This was where I found out that I suck at insulting people. I’m worse than Guybrush Threepwood. *sigh*

So that’s my homework. I need to be more aggressive. I need to be more comfortable broaching topics people usually dance around. I need to be more assertive. And it’s not like I’m really taking anyone down, because we do this in the safe environment of an improv class. A strong insult is actually a favour because it lets people demonstrate their skill at insult aikido.

Right. Insults.

There are different kinds of insults. There are generic insults (“You’re ugly!”) and specific insults (“You’re as ugly as Windows 3.1!”, or something like that ;) ). In the Insults game, I have fun thinking of person-specific insults, such as teasing a stand-up comedian about how he put everyone to sleep during his show, or teasing a project manager about his late deliveries. It’s more of a compliment, really, because I know something that’s important to them. Those kinds of insults are hard to do with people I’ve really just met, though, because I don’t know enough things about people. So I’m just going to have to get better at specific insults, which can be fun and creative.

I don’t resonate with the language most insult comics use, but there are lots of great examples of witty put-downs elsewhere. And it’s not really about being mean–it’s about being forthright.

I’ll keep you posted!

Blog to find out how you think

This entry is part 4 of 19 in the series A No-Excuses Guide to Blogging

Here are Seth Godin and Tom Peters, talking about why they blog:

I always tell people not to worry about whether or not anyone will read their blog or comment on it. Just write. Write so that you can figure out what you want to say and how you want to say it. If you’re good, people will read you. If you struggle, keep at it, and you’ll get better.

Hat-tip to Ruchi Bhatia for the link!

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