I’m a huge fan of comedy. Or I should say American comedy (not slapstick). I started watching it a few years back, when my English was finally good enough to understand (sarcastic) TV shows without subtitles (it’s really not possible to translate sassy American jokes into Korean subtitles). My life with comedy started with watching Saturday Night Live, and Late Night with Conan O’Brian. I wasn’t the same person ever since.
I think highly of comedians, except the obnoxious ones. They are the funniest (obviously) and the smartest people in my standard. True intelligence comes from passion, not by waving arms and yelling ‘I’m the smart one, I’m the smart one!’ They can make ordinary things into something super funny, because it is such an ordinary thing that you wouldn’t think twice, ever. Those, ‘aha!’ moment I love. At the same time, comedy always brings a (subtle) valuable lessons and information. I admit, I got most of the American politics update every Sunday (because I was in Korea), watching SNL. It was as good as watching the news. I can make a full list of reasons why I love comedy, but I won’t bore you with that, because I want you to read this post.
Recently I re-read Bossypants by Tina Fey. If you haven’t, please check it out. The best few hours of your life, I guarantee. I wanted inspiration, and who can be a better person to do so than a sarcastic comedy writer who can make fun of herself in the classiest and the most brilliant way and send out the messages to the world at the same time. Tina Fey worked in the improvisation comedy group called The Second City in Chicago before she was hired as a writer at SNL. She mentioned the rules of improvisation appealed to her not only as a way of creating comedy, but as a worldview. It was so brilliant, I had to share it all with you. Especially if you are questioning about your life about four thousand times a day, this is for you.
The first rule of improvisation is ‘AGREE’: always agree and SAY YES
Do you remember the movie Yes Man? And do you remember seeing some inspirational quote on the Internet on an awesome photo (probably sunset, sunrise, or sea) saying say yes and take the leap, something like that? That is very true. Not because it’s from the Internet (because Internet is always right), because it is the very fundamental attitude toward life.
We, common people, don’t have a gift of telling what’s going to happen in the future. If there are three choices in front of you, and two of them will lead you to the absolutely slippery trail full of mosquitoes and worms (because I can’t stand them), but there’s no way of knowing it. Life is giving you choices, presenting you with different options, and what are you going to do about it?
The second rule of improvisation is not only to say yes, but YES, AND
You opened the door, saw what was on the other side of the door, and now what? You can’t stand by the door forever. One way or another, you have to make a decision. What’s your next move?
The next rule is MAKE STATEMENTS: don’t ask questions all the time, be part of the solution
There are so many questions in life that I can’t answer right now (and I bet you are the same way, since you didn’t quit this article). “What am I going to do with my life? Who am I? What I really want? What’s my future going to be? What if I’m going to broke? How can I get the American Visa? Where is my home? What if I fail?” All very logical and sensible questions, I know. Tina says, ‘Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles. Be part of the solution’, and she’s absolutely right. I have so many questions, but who am I asking to? Who’s going to answer them? I’m bouncing questions with questions, what a classy way to have a conversation with myself.
It’s okay to have doubts and questions. But be part of the solution. Be the one cramming the brain and thinking of answers. Instead of saying “What am I going to do with my life?”, but make a statement like “I don’t know what I’m doing with my life but I’m out in the world, deal with it, world!”
THERE ARE NO MISTAKES, only opportunities
Think about it; if you are a writer, who’s literally making the scene of a movie, how can there be a mistake? If you want to write about a haunted nail polish that was hidden in the back of your bookshelf, there you go, there’s your subject. Same rule applies to life. How can there be mistakes, if you are the one creating the story? Every hump is an opportunity. Every choice you have to make, every people you meet, every place you go; those are the important parts of the plot.
Unfortunately, life is not as same as writing a movie. We cannot command + a and delete when we don’t like the outcome. In life, we have only one chance. That’s why we are so stressful at making decisions. But you know what? AGREE with the opportunity you got, say YES, AND make the best out of your choice, be part of the solution if things aren’t going well, because this is your chance to write a fabulous story called Your Life.
Comedy is more than just a laughter. I love comedy. Thanks Tina. I still haven’t solved everything, but at least I can write about it pretending that I already have.