Improvisation is a style of theatre in which the actors create everything – characters, plot, dialogue, action – on the spot.
Places like The Second City and The Upright Citizens Brigade have become famous for teaching improv and fostering the careers of comedy all-stars. In addition to being a performance technique, improv has also been used as a tool to help people in businesses and schools with their communication skills. There’s another area of life where communication is key: sex. The rules of improv are also pretty helpful to remember for a healthy and happy sex life. Here are a few of them:
In improv, the go-to phrase is “yes and…” If your fellow actor says that you’re two rabbits floating space, then for the scene to work you respond with something like, “Yes, we are rabbits floating in space, and we’ve gotten in a great crop of space carrots this season!” You agree with the circumstances of the moment, and add something to it to move it forward. When you’re having sex, it’s important to listen to what your partner or partners express as their wants and needs, and if you agree and want to then go with the flow.
The second someone says no to the circumstances of a scene, the scene comes to a grinding halt. If the other actor says that you’re space bunnies and you respond by saying no, you’re actually mermaids, then how are you supposed to move forward? Not being on the same page as someone in a scene is almost as bad as not being on the same page with a sexual partner. The second someone doesn’t agree to the circumstances of a sexual experience, i.e. doesn’t express enthusiastic consent, the experience should stop.
I had an improv teacher who told us that the second we started thinking, we weren’t improvising right. Improv is all about being in the moment, not thinking about the scene you did before, or where you’re going for drinks after your show. “Don’t think, just be.” With sex, you experience it with just the partner(s) there at that time. It’s all about being in the moment and feeling some kind of connection with someone else, something that also happens in the best improv scenes.
Support your partner
In improv, you always want to support your fellow actor. In addition to “yes and-ing,” you want to help them by giving them material from which they can build character and comedy. You build them up, and they build you up. They happiest sexual experiences are usually ones in which each partner is there for the other, making them feel good just as much as you want to feel good yourself.
In both improv and sex there can be weird noises, people fall off of things, and things might not turn out exactly the way you planned. It’s all okay! Mistakes happen, and improv teaches you to accept them and move on to the next thing. It also teaches you to embrace the mistakes and allow yourself to be silly because of them. Being silly can be fun – in both improv and in sex.
Taking healthy risks
Some of the best improv scenes are the ones when something totally unexpected happens. Maybe someone tries an accent they never did before, or someone else breaks into song. Sex is another area of life that can be great for exploring new things, as long as everyone involved is all right with trying them. Risks can be a little scary, but also exciting and often worthwhile to try.