One of the most amazing things I have done at Hanover so far is join Evil Petting Zoo. No, it is not some cult that meets to discuss and plan events that revolve around creatures that are manic, moody, and chomping at the bit for questionable meet. On second thought, we are that… and more. EPZ is Hanover’s improv team that meets twice a week from 10pm to midnight in the depths of Parker Auditorium to practice telling the truth. No, we are not pathological liars. We agree with the Gods of improv that comedy comes from telling the truth. That being said, there are some other rules of improv that we follow with the upmost diligence. Such as, the rule of three (all lists must have 3, 9, 27 etc. things), do not ask questions (EVER), and give gifts, just to name a few (three exactly, three always). Giving gifts is the rule I have found to be most valuable because I have begun to implement it into my life in many ways.
Giving gifts is taking a situation and saying “yes, and…”. You acknowledge the problem or event and accept it. Then, you add to it. You expand the idea and give it a twist. For example, your partner could say “I am back from the pet store!” to which you respond “I didn’t know PetSmart sold child size tarantulas”. You make it easier to work with the more interesting you make it. With everyday situations, it becomes the same thing. Taking stressful situations and making them interesting gives you a better sense of control and makes tasks seem more manageable.
Sometimes, you may need to give gifts to a friend. Being able to sit them down and say “I hear you, and…” or “Great, but did you think about…” is vital for communication. In life, college especially, you need to figure out how to state exactly what you mean but at the same time, let the other person or group of people know that you are actually hearing them. Being able to suggest ideas in creative and interesting ways makes not only you look good, but the group look good when the end product is complete. Not to mention quick thinking and being able to act on your feet can come in handy.
Improv has made me more comfortable in myself and my communication skills. I am a better listener, a more creative thinker, and better gift giver. I am always seeking out ways to improve upon myself each and everyday. I will admit, I never thought I would find a life altering skill in a spooky basement in an old theatre building. I guess it was a gift in disguise. If anything, it was interesting.