Improv Teaches Collaboration On Stage & In Life

“Yes, and…” – Why I do Improv

By Mario Muscar

I wasn’t always a performer. There was a time when I just liked playing with my Transformers and G.I. Joes, watching cartoons and riding my bike. Then I turned 8 years old and entered the third grade.

My third grade teacher, Mrs. Bennett, saw something in me that I apparently didn’t really see before. While other teachers thought that I was disruptive in class, or bored, or high energy, Mrs. Bennett had another idea. Maybe I just needed an outlet. She cast me as the lead in the third-grade holiday play, and I was hooked.

Over the course of the three decades since then, I have enjoyed acting in many productions and, most recently, being part of an improvisational comedy troupe here in Wheeling, The Left of Centre Players.

Improv Helps You As An Actor and As a Person

Performing in an improv group and doing improvisational games can really help you as an actor and, I think this is important to point out, as a person.

First, improv has helped me be more comfortable as an actor. Improv requires you to think on your feet and, most notably, teaches you that reacting is very important. And so much of acting is just that: RE-acting. Improv has given me the tools to be a more comfortable actor with a host of tools in my “acting tool belt” that I can use in performances outside of acting.

“Yes, and…”  Contribute & Collaborate On Stage & In Life

Another benefit to performing improv is the most important thing I get out of it: the benefit to me as a person. One of the main tenants and rules of improvisational comedy is the idea of “Yes, and…” This is the idea that when you are in an improvisational scene with someone else, you should accept what they have said to you (“Yes”) and then build upon their line of thinking (“and”). It helps to grow and elevate a scene. Saying “No” in improv is not a good idea as it puts the brakes on a scene and makes it difficult to build that scene.

Since I started doing improv regularly, I have tried to incorporate this idea of “Yes, and…” into both my personal and my professional lives. I think that it has made me a better listener, a better collaborator, and most importantly, a better father and husband (I hope!).

And this can be quite difficult. It is waaaaay easier to say “No” to things.
“No, I can’t play super heroes with you right now; I have to clean the kitchen.”
“No, I don’t want to meal plan for the week because I don’t like to do that.”
“No, I can’t help my coworker because I’m busy enough with my own stuff.”

Living your life by the rules of “Yes, and…” means that you are contributing something and collaborating. It means you are open to change and makes you better at adapting.

Yes, making people laugh is definitely the best feeling I get from doing improv, but it’s not the only reason I do it.

Come See The Left of Centre Players at Towngate Theatre

This Saturday, September 9th at 8PM, join the Left of Centre Players for a night of improvisational comedy in Wheeling. These brave performers hit the Towngate Theatre stage without a script, props or a safety net. Armed only with adrenaline and their imaginations, they make-up stories on the spot that entertain and amuse.

Audience members offer suggestions for scenes, conflicts, characters and theatrical styles and contribute directly to the action on stage.

Leave the kiddos at home. These shows are for mature audiences only. Strong language is possible.

You can purchase beer and wine at the show.

Tickets are $5.  Purchase online, by calling 304-242-7700 or at the door, if available.