I should start off by saying that you don’t have to surround yourself with actual stage experienced improvisers. What I am saying is that you should surround yourself with people who are good at improvising life. The definition of improvise is, “To compose and perform or deliver without previous preparation.” Here’s why you want to surround yourself with people who can deliver a good time without previous preparation.
1. Improvisers make the best out of what they have.
The greatest sign of a good life improviser is that you enjoy the time you spend with them regardless of your surroundings. This may come off oversimplified, but a trip to Goodwill is an easy test to see if you’re dealing with a quality life improviser. A person only disgusted and not remotely interested in seeing what is being sold in the ceramics, electronics, or random bin section is what you call an indicator. Improvisers are naturally curious, and so it comes natural for an improviser to revel in the fact that they are able to see what people are throwing away and more importantly see what people are willing to buy.
Improvisers are able to make the best out of what they have in front of them. This is why some of my favorite memories are from simply drinking cheap vodka with some of my friends in a crowded dorm room. Sure we only had a sticky, beer-stained card deck, some quantity over quality alcohol, and my grandma’s flower sequenced ottoman from the 1970s that acted as a makeshift card table, but everyone was making the best of what they had.
2. Conversations with improvisers are much more interesting and engaging.
A good conversation is like a competitive game of ping pong. One person sends something over, and the other person comes back with something. Now unless you’re Forest Gump, playing ping pong by yourself isn’t very enjoyable. The fun isn’t having yourself or someone else constantly serving; it’s in the constant back and forth between the players.
Let’s take a simple game like, “Would you rather?” where people give you two hypothetical scenarios and you chose which scenario you’d prefer. For example, “Would you rather get hit in the face with a fish or drink a bologna sandwich?” The fun in this game is in the follow up questions regarding the scenario, not in the selection.
Improvisers will have many follow up questions, and they’ll give detailed answers on why they would choose one answer over the other. Non-Improvisers, or stagnates we’ll call them, will give you an answer with no explanation, or even worse will scoff and roll their eyes at you without even giving the question a thought. What’s the fun in that? Your brain just imagined these two scenarios out of words, and you don’t have any feelings on one or the other? Why make life more boring than it already is? This skill allows improvisers to have more engaged conversations with people regardless of the topic.
3. Improvisers are more likely to make for compatible romantic partners.
The benefit of surrounding yourself with a great improviser also rings true when trying to find a romantic partner. A key part in finding that special someone is finding someone that you’re compatible with. There are couples that constantly get into arguments with each other because they don’t have the ability to compromise. In other words, they can’t improvise a resolution. Going out to a bar with two dating stagnates is a third wheel’s nightmare. You’ll spend sporadic twenty-minute portions of the night excusing yourself to the bathroom, pretending to text people on your phone, and trying to find strangers to talk to while they fight about nothing for extended periods of time.
Here’s my resolution to cut divorce rates. If you’re trying to decide if someone is right for you, try taking a long road trip with that person. You’ll quickly realize how much you really have in common with someone after about eight hours on the open road. After all, marriage is really just one long car ride that keeps going until someone either dies, or pulls the James Bond ejector seat of divorce.
4. Improvisers can find the comedy in otherwise bleak scenarios.
One other joy of surrounding yourself with improvisers is their ability to find the comedy in what would otherwise be a bleak or dull scenario. For example, local commercials can be terribly dull and boring, but if you’re watching them with an improviser, you’ll laugh more at the commercials than you will at the actual sitcom. The same goes for watching the local news. Personally, I intentionally watch a specific local news channel not because they have better coverage; I just get a kick out of how terrible each broadcast is. I’ve had more laughs watching their broadcasts than I have watching most scripted comedies.
When it comes down to it, improvisers can roll with the punches, and life is full of unexpected haymakers. So find yourself an improviser, and learn to improvise yourself, because life isn’t scripted.