How Improv Helps You to Be a Child Again

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Improvisational Comedy (or improv) involves developing scenes with other players, totally unscripted. As the scenes progress, comedy naturally emerges from them. I’ve written about how improv can help increase your confidence in another post.

In this post, we’ll look at how improv can help you be like a child again. Why would you want to be like a child again? Well children know how to have fun! Unfortunately, as adults, the joys of childhood can often seem like long distant memories. Read below, to find out how improv can help do deal with this:

Just say

Kids have the ability to say what they think and feel. They will be inquisitive and ask questions without worrying about being judged.

The beauty of improvisation is that you just say whatever comes to your mind. You re-learn the ability to speak your mind, rather than constantly worrying whether what you say will be liked and accepted by others.

Just do

Youngsters are masters at creating experiments. For instance an adult will use a straw to drink from a glass. A kid on the other will blow into the straw and be fascinated at the bubbles that form.

When you improvise, you’re proactive and use your words, body and your physiology to build upon what another player has just said and/or done with his/her body. By taking action, you’re allowing new insights to emerge, which help to continue a scene.

Just observe

Have you ever had a child observe you do something and then repeat what you’ve done, exactly? I certainly have. Kids are brilliant observers and modellers.

In improv, you develop the ability to be a highly skilled observer, watching carefully the words and actions that your fellow players are presenting. This is critical as it will enable you to make your contributions to a scene.

Increased adaptability

It is often said that a child’s brain is like a sponge. It just absorbs new information and ideas constantly and makes connections with existing ideas to assimilate new knowledge. Kids therefore, are highly adaptable to new ideas.

When you improvise, you never know what words or actions your fellow players will put your way. By taking in new ideas and thoughts from your partners, you learn to adapt to new situations and circumstances.

Its play

Kids love to play. They play with their toys and with their friends. When a youngster smiles and laughs after an activity, you know he/she has enjoyed it.

When you create scenes on the spot, and build upon words and statements that your fellow improvisers have presented to you, it is fun. Humour will naturally arise and your spirits will, too!

Embrace what is new

When kids learn, they welcome in new ideas and approaches. Initially, there is no right or no wrong for them.

In improv, you learn to accept new thoughts and ideas without fear, because it is an opportunity for you to practice improv in its purest form, as new perspectives will help to enhance your scene and make it even more spontaneous.

My friends, it’s over to you:

• In what other ways can improv help us to be childlike?
• What other activities do you do those are not related to improv, and help you to be like a joyful child?
• Please share your valuable views, thoughts and experiences in the comments box below.
• Please also share this post on your favourite social networks. Thank you.

 

Photo Credit: ImprovBoston

24 Comments
  1. Hi Hiten,

    Lovely post indeed 🙂

    I’ve only heard about Improvisational Comedy (or improv) but never really knew what it was, and the way you have described it – it surely does bring out the child in us, something which we all need to do, at least once in a while.

    You are right, kids are great in just saying, doing, and observing things. They don’t really take much time to think and they say what’s in their heart, which makes their words so valuable and true. In the same way they are spontaneous in doing things, which again come to their mind and don’t really give much thought to their actions. Yes, they are great oberservrs too that’s why parents need to be very careful about every little thing.

    In the same way in Improvisational Comedy too, as you mentioned, you bring out the child in you and just enact by saying and doing things that come to mind. You are totally free I’d say and the best of yourself comes out then – it is free flow, without any barriers or inhibitions. I think it is a must that we all try this out sometime or the other, and we can do this anywhere with anyone – isn’t it?

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice weekend 🙂

    1. Hi Harleena,

      I’m really glad you enjoyed the post! Improv is one of my favourite hobbies! 🙂

      Indeed, improv is really a fun activity. It really helps us to release inhibitions and allow our creative selves to come out.

      You made a very interesting point about kids and how they don’t tend to take much time to think, which means that what they say is from the heart. Adults on the other hand tend to think too much, which sometimes can cause problems. With improv, one is encouraged to cease thinking and just say whatever comes out of the person.

      Indeed, you’re right. All of us would benefit from improvising more often rather than trying to control all the time and as you said, it can be done anywhere and with anyone. I think in life we’re improvising quite a lot of the time anyway, although we can forget this at times.

      Many thanks for your wonderful comment, Harleena and for adding some further great insights to this post!

      Have a wonderful week ahead! 🙂

  2. Hi Hiten,

    My first thought when I read your title was “Oh my God, that would be terrifying!” I remember watching a TV show a few years ago that was all improvised comedy sketches. I think it was called “Whose Line Is It, Anyway?” – it was hilarious, but the participants were incredibly clever and quick-witted and I used to sit there in awe of the stuff they came out with.

    I can see how this could be great fun and help to release your creative potential, but it would need to be facilitated in a very sensitive way, so people didn’t feel stupid if they were lost for words. People are often very nervous about role-playing games.

    I become like a kid when I play with my dogs – very therapeutic – they don’t care how daft I am! And I think “free writing” is also a great way to free up your inner child – just writing whatever springs into your mind, without worrying about structure, content etc.

    Thanks for introducing us to an interesting and unusual topic, Hiten – a great share,

    Sue

    1. Hi Sue,

      Yes, “Whose Life is It, Anyway?” is improv! Isn’t it amazing how unscripted content can turn out to be so funny? I think what helps is that what one person says in response to another person might not be in the same context and this is funny. Improv is a great way to build confidence, too.

      You’re spot on about improv sessions needing to be facilitated carefully. Usually the workshop facilitator will create an environment of fun and experimentation and encourage participants to take risks without worrying about outcomes.

      I loved the ways you shared that help you to become like a kid. I agree spending time with pets can be such a fun activity. I liked what you wrote about “free writing” as well. I love the idea of writing freely without pondering too much about content. I do this when writing fiction.

      I’m really glad you liked the post, Sue and many thanks for adding more value to it.

  3. To be honest I have not heard of improvisational comedy before but I think it has lots of potential. I would definitely like to try it. In fact, I will try it. Do we need kids or can be done with adults too?

    1. Hi Shalu,

      It’s great to see you here, my friend!

      I definitely recommend improvisational comedy. It is usually done with adults. I’m sure there are improv courses for kids, too.

      Have a wonderful week! 🙂

  4. Hi Hiten, I’ve only read a few of your articles so far, but I think I’m already a fan!! You may have heard of me on Facebook stuttering groups; I’m a person who stutters (PWS) and improv classes and performing on stage has helped me increase my confidence. As for improv helping someone be more “childlike”, that’s very true 🙂 I’ve been taking improv classes since 2010, and I’ve learned to laugh a lot more (and loudly, haha). Laughing is definitely healthy!! If anyone would like to watch my YouTube videos, my YouTube link is on my Facebook fan page at http://www.facebook.com/ImprovBJW I put my videos online so I can encourage and inspire others who stutter. But I’m sure it would inspire non-stutterers too.

    1. Hi Bryan,

      Welcome to the blog and I’m so glad you’re enjoying the articles.

      Indeed, I have heard of you over on Facebook and have ‘Liked’ you great page. The work you’re doing with improv and helping to spread the word about the benefits of this art form to people who stutter is brilliant and a big thanks for your efforts.

      Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with improv and particularly with regards to how it can help us act like a kid again! Indeed, as you quite rightly said, laughter is healthy and also therapeutic.

      I’ll be sure to check out your YouTube videos and thanks for letting us all know about them.

      Have a great week and I appreciate you adding so much more value to this post. Cheers! 🙂

  5. Excellent points, my friend! I love especially the points about having fun and accepting new ideas. We adults so easily forget that it’s all about having fun. In fact, having fun is one of the points I’m about to include in my own post for this week as a follow-up to seeing the simple in the complicated that I started last week. Great minds think alike–again! 🙂

    To your question about how else we may be more childlike–though improv or otherwise–I think it’s to give ourselves permission every so often to forget boundaries and rules. It’s true that rules and norms serve a vital purpose of regulating behavior so that we as a society can all get along and know how to respect each other. Yet, rules and tight boundaries also stifle creativity and breakthroughs. So, having some outlet to break all rules and boundaries is important for fostering our creativity and nurturing our right brain.

    Thank you for this excellent post!

    1. Hi Alice,

      What you wrote in your comment about adults forgetting it’s all about having fun, is so true. I’m really looking forward to your post this week, my friend. Indeed, as you said, great minds do think alike and with us both, it seems to be happening again and again!

      I really liked you wrote about forgetting rules and boundaries every now and then. In fact, it is rules which seem to govern so much of our behaviour as adults. Improv definitely is one type of outlet as you put it, to enable our creativity to emerge.

      Many thanks for commenting, Alice. I really appreciate your support. 🙂

  6. Hi Hiten

    I can see how that would be a lot of child like fun. We all get so wrapped up in the way we are supposed to act, we forget to have fun. Life can become far too serious at times. That is why I prefer shows or movies that make me laugh. Finding like minded people that would be willing to relax and do that might be a bit more of a challenge. The older people are as a group the more reserved they become, I suppose that would be me included.

    Silly laughter which can only be accomplished by doing something out of the ordinary can make us feel alive and more energetic. I remember years ago my brother received a pool table that had been badly abused by the previous owners and there was dips and holes in the felt. Well you would shoot the balls and they would rarely go where you wanted them to. We were totally in hysterical laughter by the end of the evening. Could not take that game seriously!

    Mary

    1. Hi Mary,

      Indeed, as you quite rightly said, life can become too serious at times. Why spend so much of time taking everything too seriously? Life is short enough!

      As Bryan said in his comment above, laughter is healthy and we should take any opportunity we get to have a good laugh and enjoy ourselves.

      Ah, the story about your brother’s pool table brought a big smile to my face. I can imagine it being extremely funny in real life. Thanks for sharing this.

      Many thanks for adding so much more value to this post, Mary! 🙂

  7. Improv – what a great subject for a post! I’ve never tried it myself and like Susan, find the concept terrifying!

    However, it seems like a lot of fun. Interestingly, the people I know that do go to improv classes are very shy and total introverts. One of my friends was telling me that she enjoys it because she can just be someone else and not think about what makes her uncomfortable/nervous etc.

    That in itself is a reason to give it a go, right?

    It amazes me how children are able to simply feel pure joy. At what point does that change from being a natural thing to something we have to make a concerted effort to feel?

    1. Hi Razwana,

      You made some really interesting points. Absolutely, improv is an excellent art form, which can help quiet people be more talkative. I actually read some articles where people have used it to deal with social anxiety. It definitely can help with confidence and help people be more sociable.

      I can relate to the experience of your friend. With improv, we can play the part of whoever we want and practice new behaviours in the process.

      I think a potential point when we stop seeing the joy in life, is as we get older and begin to create separation between ourselves and others. We start to judge and think too much.

      Many thanks for commenting, and for asking some really interesting questions, Razwana.

  8. Enjoyed your article Hiten, but I will be honest – if the words “improve” or “charades” are uttered anywhere that I am – all that will be left of me is dust in the wake of my exit out the door.

    1. Hi Marty,

      Many thanks for commenting, my friend.

      You already do public speaking with Toastmasters, right?

      Trust me, if you can do public speaking, you can also do improv. I highly recommend it.

  9. Hiten, I haven’t tried improv comedy but did take a theater class in high schoool where we did regular improv. We would be given prompts or situations and would have to act it out. It requires a lot of your creativity and a lot of ‘just doing’. It is scary but quite exciting and you feed off each other’s energy. And the biggest thing you realize in improv is if you can create a make-belief situation and be part of it and have fun, you can do that for your life as well 🙂 You can cut the scene and start again and try something new and more creative. And come back when you’ve fallen back. Or take a break and become the hero – you get the picture:)

    I take it you’ve given it a go as well?

    1. Hi Vishnu,

      Many thanks for sharing your experiences with theatre and improvisation. Absolutely, as you said, it does take a lot of creativity. I think it can even help people unleash their creativity.

      I loved what you wrote about creating make-belief situations and how this can also be done with our lives. We definitely have the ability to create the plots we want in our life stories, and as you say, we have the option to cut the scene, to change it or start again.

      Yes, I’m been doing improv for just over 2 years now. It’s one my main hobbies!

      Thanks for commenting my friend, and for adding more value to this post. 🙂

  10. I found talking to new people from cold is the best way to practice this 🙂
    In the beginning it was really difficult to know what to say as you simply didn’t know who that person was.
    But after a while, your mind gets sharper and start noticing little things to talk about through observation and creative thinking. It definitely is a useful skill to have.

    Great post!

    1. Hi Onder,

      I’m really glad you enjoyed the post, my friend!

      I loved what you shared in your comment about how our minds get sharper, the more we put ourselves into situations, where we’re interacting with new people. Indeed, the point you made about observation is very useful. We can always find something to talk about when we just notice the environments in which we’re in.

      Many thanks for leaving your great comment, Onder! 🙂

  11. This is awesome man. I’ve known how beneficial improv can be for awhile now, but I haven’t actually seen anybody write about it.

    A good friend of mine was trying to better his dating life. When he would go and talk to women, he would be at a loss for words very often. Obviously, there are other ways to solve this problem like dealing with insecurities, gaining confidence, etc. But he turned to improv for help.

    Within a month he had no problems thinking on his feet. He was able to speak his mind, just like you said. He was clever as shit and always coming up with great jokes.

    Improv can definitely change lives.

    1. Hi Kevin,

      Many thanks for sharing the story about your friend and how he has used improv to help him with his dating life. This is a perfect example of how improv can be so beneficial.

      I agree it really does help one to think on his/her feet and to become confident to really say what the person wants to.

      Many thanks for commenting, Kevin. I really do appreciate your wonderful support. 🙂

  12. Hello Hiten,
    Again found a real interesting one on your blog and dropping my point for the same. 🙂
    This seems to work like a perfect therapy which can lead you all the way to freshness, new income in terms of creative thoughts. The best thing which I liked in terms of advantage is the ADAPTABILITY because imagine the information we grab and grasp on the daily basis. I mean I know that brain has got an awesome capacity to store in terms of terabytes 😛 but still it requires a maintenance which IMPROV can provide us with.
    Thanks a lot for sharing this thing. 🙂

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