Before I went on stage for the last improv show I had, my instructor asked each of us for one thing we wanted to focus on while performing. As we went around the room, some common improv rules showed up:
- Listen! Have your scene partner’s back! Focus on the game!
When it came to me, I blurted out the first thing that came to my mind:
This was my way of telling myself to get out of my own head. My way of releasing all of the rules and theory behind improv and just having fun on stage.
After all, doing improv is like trying to be a kid again…but doing it right feels like you are a kid again.
Kids don’t try to be kids. Kids are kids.
This is where the Be Dumb mantra comes from. It’s a metaphor for releasing the judging elements of your brain and dropping into the moment.
For me, coming up with stupid ideas that I personally think are funny is the way I drop into the present.
Here are some other ways to Be Dumb:
- Realize that there is nothing to achieve when doing improv. It all goes away at the end of the show anyways, good or bad.
- Realizing that you can’t think about two things at once, and if given the choice of thinking about the “rules of improv” or what your partner is saying on stage, you should always choose the latter.
- Realizing that comparing yourself to another improviser is a complete waste of mental energy.
P.S. This series is called Improv and Life for a reason. These realizations are more useful off-stage than on.