I have always known Stephen Colbert was a sexist bigot. Or not. Maybe he is just hysterically funny. Here are a few quotes from his 2006 Commencement Address at Knox College
This seems like a very nice place. They have a lovely Web site. Besides, have you seen the world outside lately? They are playing for KEEPS out there, folks. My God, I couldnâ€™t wait to get here today just so I could take a breather from the real world. I donâ€™t know if they told you whatâ€™s happened while youâ€™ve matriculated here for the past four years. The world is waiting for you people with a club.
and later in the speech he clarifies yes-and. The first rule of improv is you have to accept as fact what has already happened. If they say "I am an elephant and I am grumpy" your reply is, perhaps, "well then why did you not eat the new six foot ArgoCorn?" To which they must give a reasoned…. cough … response. But Stephen says it much better in this slightly longer excerpt:
So, say â€œyes.â€ In fact, say â€œyesâ€ as often as you can. When I was
starting out in Chicago, doing improvisational theatre with Second City
and other places, there was really only one rule I was taught about
improv. That was, â€œyes-and.â€ In this case, â€œyes-andâ€ is a verb. To
â€œyes-and.â€ I yes-and, you yes-and, he, she or it yes-ands. And
yes-anding means that when you go onstage to improvise a scene with no
script, you have no idea whatâ€™s going to happen, maybe with someone
youâ€™ve never met before. To build a scene, you have to accept. To build
anything onstage, you have to accept what the other improviser
initiates on stage. They say youâ€™re doctorsâ€”youâ€™re doctors. And then,
you add to that: Weâ€™re doctors and weâ€™re trapped in an ice cave. Thatâ€™s
the â€œ-and.â€ And then hopefully they â€œyes-andâ€ you back. You have to
keep your eyes open when you do this. You have to be aware of what the
other performer is offering you, so that you can agree and add to it.
And through these agreements, you can improvise a scene or a one-act
play. And because, by following each otherâ€™s lead, neither of you are
really in control. Itâ€™s more of a mutual discovery than a solo
adventure. What happens in a scene is often as much a surprise to you
as it is to the audience.
Colbert’s ending is killer. You must read that on the Knox site.
I realize many bloggers have linked and discussed this speech today. And like others I am influenced by popularity. In this case it makes me want to not link to it lest I be the sheep. I will resist that urge on the basis of quality.
Yes improv matters. I learned that from an amazingly great man named Charles Gordone who taught theater. And improv.