When asked what we do, we sometimes answer with that question. Although, frankly, that show can only be seen in syndication now. It’s not the best reply. It had a very successful prime time run on ABC, from 1998 to 2004 and was picked up by the CW in 2013.
Really, Comedy Parlor’s culture is much more expansive than what that simple reply suggests. It could be argued that our culture is firmly entrenched in modern psychology and sociology. Specifically, Comedy Parlor gives credit to a social worker and theatrical director, Viola Spolin, for creating many of the improvisation games and exercises that spurred the massive interest and innovation of improvised theater.
She designed the games to be used for children of diverse backgrounds. She was hired to teach theater to inner city children; some of them couldn’t even speak English. These games were hugely successful. In fact, they were so successful that many adults started playing them. Viola Spolin’s work, in the 1940’s and 50’s, started “The Compass Players”, which later formed “The Second City” in Chicago. Many of today’s most famous comedians have trained there or at other places inspired by “The Second City”. The list is long. Improv has become the backbone of
modern comedy. If you look at the biography of your favorite comedic actor, chances are that they will have had improv training.
Improv started to crossover into business skills training almost as soon as it was developed for the theater. The skills attached to comedic improv training directly apply to the skills required in business. Improv performers constantly practice listening, creativity, awareness, speech, engagement, and more. These are called “soft skills” in business.
“Soft skills” are the equivalent of your skin. It’s soft, sure. But it keeps you together. It’s what you use to feel. It’s also how others perceive you.
In comedy improv, “Yes, And” has become the golden rule. It is the binary code of healthy team performance. When improvisers are on stage in front of an audience, they want to know that they will be successful. They need to feel confident about what they will bring to the moment. And they need to feel confident in their partners on stage with them. The power of “Yes, And” is in creating amazing “Team Dynamics”.
“Yes, And” has naturally been used in business training as well. It provides a positive and engaged formula for interaction, or as we calls it, interplay.
We love what we do. It is possible to conduct business and have a good time doing it. Here at the Comedy Parlor, we are very thankful for the supportive community and culture of comedy improv. We hope to represent it well through quality instruction and business practices.