How to apply the 4 rules of improv to everyday life

In Bossypants, Tina Fey explains why the rules of theatrical improv can help get you ahead in your career. But what if these rules were applied to your day-to-day life?

Lynn Dell from the fashion blog Advanced Style said “You must dress for the theater of your life everyday” so I decided to listen to her and play life-improv if you will. Here’s why you should too.

Rule #1: In improv, you agree.

A great example of this rule is the movie Yes Man where Jim Carrey’s character gets the challenge to say yes to everything for a year. As you can imagine, this makes for a really entertaining movie and an insightful life lesson. If he hadn’t agreed to all proposals/challenges/adventures, the movie would’ve been boring. Thus, instead of predicting how things will turn out, understand that there are elements out of your control that will surpass your expectations of the outcome. And yes, that’s a good thing.

Rule #2: In improv, you don’t stop at Yes.  You say yes and…

In improv you have to keep the storyline going no matter what it is. So if a player asks why you have chocolate on the side of your mouth, you tell them that you have new boyfriend who’s a baker and not the real story: that it’s peanut butter instead of chocolate, which would interrupt the flow.  I’m not saying you should bluff your way through life here, ’cause that could seriously backfire.  But the idea is to simply keep the ball rolling. And to have fun with it. Your opinion matters and by agreeing to the situation presented in front of you, you keep the flow going by adding to it and growing with it.

That was by the way, created out of thin air. Man, I love improv. Back to the rule.

Rule #3: In improv, you make statements.

Statements radiate confidence, questions less so. Contributing to a conversation by making statements and asking a minimum amount of questions does just that – contribute. Again, the theme of flow reappears.

Rule #4: In Improv, there are no mistakes, only opportunities.

What more can I say?

Believing that life is a sandbox which can turn every challenge into a personal lesson. Whether it’s a lesson on the skills you need, your emotional maturity, who your friends really are, your personal limits or where you should set your standards, it can be construed as enriching experiences instead of “failures”. Remember, you choose your perspective.


About Natalie Haggar

Newly-born writer and lover of Montreal, I'm constantly working on my stand-up routine. And by stand-up routine I mean telling jokes to my friends at dinner. Oh and I'm awkward.