Using Improv to Face Life’s Curveballs
Disclaimer: The materials and content within this podcast are intended as general information only and are not to be considered a substitute for professional legal advice or a consultation with a lawyer.
1. Family Law Tip of the Week
Once your divorce is final, remember to revisit any life insurance policies, 401K Plans, retirement plans, stock/investment plans (etc.) to make sure the beneficiary information is what you want it to be (or what it has been ordered by the court to be). If you forget to change things and leave your ex-spouse listed as the beneficiary, in the case of your untimely death, any benefits may still go to that ex!
2. Using Improv to Face Life’s Curveballs
This week, Bill Binder of Phoenix’s Torch Theatre joins us to talk about handling life’s curveballs with grace.
For those who don’t know, improv is unscripted comedy or theatre. The reason that improv is so compelling is because there is no script, when you are doing it, you are in the moment. The audience and performer discover what the show is about together. In improv, if you are worrying only about this moment, you can understand the people you are with at a deeper level, be able to more fully understand them and “yes, and…” them to build something now (instead of worrying what will happen in the future).
Before Bill started doing improv, he didn’t know how to listen. He didn’t have a lot of self-expression. Because Bill was introduced to long-form improv, he started realizing that if he wanted to be effective, he had to really start listening – not to JUST what was being said, but also to the subtext. In other words, Bill had to hear what was really going on behind the other person’s words. The ability to ask “why” results in amazing conversations/connections with other people.
NOTE: Improv has the power to change the quality of all of your interpersonal relationships!
This is the first thing that is taught on an improv stage. It is functional in terms of theatre. To say “Yes, and…” means to agree to things (in theatre) to keep things going in the scene.
Bill understands we all can’t say “yes, and…” to everything in life. However, what is valuable about this idea is the ability to listen to a relationship partner and say “I can’t give you the application of what you are asking for but what do you really need?” Listen more deeply and figure out what you CAN agree to do.
This is particularly important for ex-partners who are trying to co-parent, share custody and share parenting time. There are challenges in real life because of logistics. However, try to sit back and look at whether “Tuesday at 5:00 p.m.” is really the important thing. If you honestly look at it, at the deepest level, each parent is most interested in spending time with the children.
Finding Your Voice and Authenticity Again
“Truth in Comedy” is a great book that addresses this issue. It deals with truth and authenticity. Be honest about what you really want.
In improv, when a scene is going badly, it is because you are talking about what you are doing. You aren’t looking at your partner and telling them what you feel. When you tell your partner what you really feel, the scene comes alive again.
Dig deeper. WHY do you feel what you feel? Why do you love someone or hate them?
Asking these questions opens relationships up beyond your wildest dreams!
Vulnerability gets a bad rap.
Bill loves being on stage because he gets to lead little lives with people. On stage, Bill is comfortable being vulnerable because the scene will eventually end. He can say what he wants to say.
Life is much more satisfying when you act on what you want to say. Once you do it the first time (as terrifying as it is), it feels amazing. Once you do this time after time, you know what’s on the other side and you push through the fear.
What complements vulnerability is honesty. Honesty means speaking the things you wouldn’t normally say. Saying these things also allows us to become better listeners.
Remember that being honest includes being honest with yourself. If you can’t be honest with another because of fear of retribution, be honest with yourself that the best thing may be to walk away from that relationship. Understand, however, consequences will come with leaving, too.
“The only way you are going to succeed in your scene, your improv career and your life is by asking ‘What do I actually want?’ and then making choices based on that.” –Mick Napier
Check out the Torch Theatre (and Bill) at torchtheatre.com. The first Saturday of every month, The Torch offers free improv classes.
Also, on April 17-19, 2014, The Phoenix Improv Festival will be happening at the Herberger Theatre. If you live in the Phoenix metro area and want to discover more about improv, this is the perfect opportunity!