02 Apr Yes, and… LaunchSquad Boston Does Improv!
Much has been said about the benefits of studying improvisation for those in the business world. Improv and other acting classes can help improve your presence in a board room, strengthen conversation skills, and teach you to think quickly on your feet. Improv is also an amazing way to get those creative juices flowing.
To inspire a little crazy in the LaunchSquad Boston office, we tried our hand at an office-wide improv comedy class with the amazing Boston College troupe, My Mother’s Fleabag (Amy Poehler is a Fleabag alum!) There were laughs, rounds of craft beer and an imaginary baby who kept trying to join our fun…
But really, we learned some amazing skills that we know will benefit us offstage. Below, some of our favorites:
Anything is Possible
Everything is exactly as you perceive it to be. Not possible to climb Mt Everest in 30 seconds while simultaneously playing the ukelele and getting chased by a pack of hyenas? Doesn’t matter. When you do improv, you create a reality in which anything is possible. Removing all boundaries and limits like this inspires insane creativity. You can focus more on the possibilities of an idea or campaign, rather than the potential limitations or roadblocks you could encounter. It’s important to let yourself be playful, let go of conventional thinking and have a little fun!
The most commonly known improv rule is that of “yes, and…” This rule states that when a fellow improviser says something on stage, other improvisers have to go along with it. Imagine someone says “Oh honey, I’m so excited for our honeymoon!” The “yes, and” would sound something like, “Yes, and the beaches of St. Martin will be lovely.” Building on that first line helps set the tone, advance the plot and move the scene forward, opening up a range of opportunities to the actors.
The opposite of “yes, and” is “the neg,” which involves negating the reality of a scene. Imagine the first line above met with something like, “We’re not married. I don’t even know you!” This line completely negates the reality that the first improviser attempted to set, killing the storyline in its tracks. In a brainstorming session, either internally or with a client, remember to always say “yes, and.” That way, instead of being a force of negativity, you build upon other people’s ideas and see where they take you. Amazing things will happen.
Improv is a team sport, and successful improv actors are great listeners. As Kristen Wiig has said, improv is “a combination of listening and not trying to be funny.” Improv actors intently listen to every line from their scene partners, in an attempt to align a range of wacky ideas and possibilities into one cohesive, comedic scene. The lesson here is obvious. Listen to clients, team members, and anyone else with something to say. Listening is the only way that a team of people can align their efforts to effectively solve a problem or reach a common goal.
Ultimately, I think the best thing we learned during our improv class was to have no fear. It’s okay to let our minds wander, to jump (not just step!) outside our comfort zones, and to forgo conventional PR thinking. I’m not sure that any of us will be the next Amy Poehler, but we can’t wait to test out our new skills at LaunchSquad.