As you know too well improvisation (comedy) has been my steady boyfriend since 2011. The lessons I've learned are not just applicable on stage, they're great for life, and you guessed it - dating.
I've learned that a first date is like an improv show because you have no idea what what the hell will happen. But if you can prepare for a show, why not a date? Here are my five tips to help you deal with hotties, weirdos and everything in between:
1. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF FIRST
An experienced player makes a choice for herself before she goes out on stage, such as an emotional state (happy or sad), or a character trait (a weird accent). This choice acts as a lens through which she will play the scene.
- Before a date, take care of yourself both inside and out. Notice your mindset.
- How do you feel?
- What do you need to let go of to enjoy this date?
I’ve had one too many dates where the guy whined about his crappy day at work the whole time, while I drowned myself in wine. For your outside don’t forget hygiene (do everything your mother nagged you about as a kid), and choose an outfit that makes you feel confident and comfortable.
2. SAY “YES, AND…”
The rule of agreement is the most important improv skill to master. Whatever information is presented, the players treat as truth – they say “yes” to it – and they add new information to build the scene – the “and”. This principle is the key to moving any scene forward and avoiding conflict.
Avoid conflict on a first date. It’s not cool or sexy, it’s aggressive and offensive. Once a date of mine confused debate with argument, and told me my opinion was entirely wrong. You know what wasn’t wrong? Me leaving that date immediately.
Even if he disagreed with me, imagine how lovely our night could have turned out had he said “Mmmm, yes, interesting, and how about considering this point of view?”
3. LISTEN AND RESPOND
If a player isn’t listening to others on stage, and is instead thinking about what funny thing he will say next, he’s not supporting his teammates and will miss details that are crucial to the scene.
Listen to your date, and do this by asking open-ended questions. Don’t space out while he or she answers, actively listen. Hear not only what they say, but how they say it. You can talk about yourself later when you respond. Which will bring more value to the conversation because you listened so well.You’ll bond with your date quicker and hopefully skip to the kissing quicker.
4. FOCUS ON THE HERE AND NOW
Improv scenes are only fun to watch when they are action-orientated. For this to happen the players must address the present, not the past or future.
Dates are not fun to be on when you forget to exist in the moment. Don’t dwell on your last bad date or work you have to do tomorrow, or wonder if you’ll fall in love and elope in Hawaii. Sure, you might not see this person again, so what? What can you learn about him or her right now?
I’ve had so many good first dates that never led to second dates where we shared stories about art, comedy, startups, travel and other fascinating stuff. People are pretty okay when you’re listening and present.
5. THERE ARE NO MISTAKES
Because improv is made-up on the spot and totally unpredictable, anything that happens on stage is right. There is no wrong – one of the reasons I love doing it.
There is no wrong or right way to date. Do what feels right for you. I have some friends who don’t date at all, some who jump right into a relationships, or some who cultivate friendships first. If you are open, anything can happen. And it will.
When I introduce my improv show I always say “What you are about to see here is entirely made up, never to be seen again.” You’ll never have the same first date twice, so, as we say in the improv world, follow the fun.
This article was also published on Digital Romance here