This July, I took an improv class from Paul Vaillancourt, co-founder of IO West in Los Angeles. The class was based on his Triangle of the Scene. One part of the triangle is “character,” yours and theirs, or as Paul called the various attributes that make up character, the “big playable gift.”
I was struck by this advice, because I imagined applying it to my real life. To make the scene more funny, and more enjoyable to watch and be in, Paul said:
- Don’t try to change the other character.
- Don’t try to teach the other character.
- Don’t change your character.
- Just let your character interact with the other character.
- The humor comes from two different characters and how those differences rub up against each other.
What if I did that in my life?
Could it be that the irreconcilable differences in my family that have seemed so sad have the potential to be… funny?! Maybe I didn’t get cast into a cosmic tragedy, maybe I have been cast in a cosmic comedy!
What if I let go of trying to change the people in my family or trying to teach them, and also let go of trying to flow with them by making my own personality less pronounced and more malleable? What if, just for the comedy of it, we let our very different personalities rub up against each other, or smash up against each other, and let the hilarity ensue?*
What do you think?
What would happen if you took Paul Vaillancourt’s character advice for improv and applied it to your real life?
*I’m saying this part a little tongue in cheek. Relationship dynamics, especially among family members are very complex, even so, I think that looking at our differences as potential sources of comedy could be a way for me to enjoy those differences in my family more than I currently do.