What if You Stumbled Into a Podium and Bullhorn?

So you’re walking down the street and you happen upon a bull horn and a podium. On a nice black & brass plate it says, “say something nice.” Do you know what you’d say?

If you stumbled across this podium and megaphone, what would you say? Well say it to someone already.

This is what makes ImprovEverywhere less edgy but far more wonderful than Candid Camera, Pranked or Punk’d. It comes from a really kind place… there aren’t victims. Sure we get to giggle at the reactions of strangers, but it’s never cruel.

The joke is on everyone and nobody. I think this is a heart-warming example of how a candid camera can give us interesting and positive  insights into how humans behave in curious positions. Improv is a wonderful skill, and Charlie Todd and his gang are quietly teaching it to us all. See the “back story” on the ImprovEverywhere website here.

Candidly almost none of the volunteer statesman and women are terribly provocative. I was expecting them to be more interesting or inspiring, and that’s a good lesson… Maybe we all need to have an inspiring “nice thing” as what public-relations folks call a “standby statement.” I’ll go with “just be yourself” as a contrast to “just do it.” You? And hey- they were brave enough to take the mic, and the reactions are charming.

I also feel like this video is a timely allegory in a time where every politician (and many video creators) have their 15 minutes to say something nice (or not).

So what’s your nice thing? Don’t type it below. Tell it to a stranger. They may need it more than you know.

Why Your Social-Media Expert Should Be an Improv Comic: 7 Reasons

Would you trust your social-media voice to an improv comic?
Would you trust your social-media voice to an improv comic?

I recently told a few hundred Canadian marketers that their social-media expert should be an improv comic, an insight that hit me during my all-night roadtrip to Toronto. Moments later, one former improv comic (from Freshed Baked Entertainment) confided at lunch that he’s using his improv experience to help brands create entertaining content.

This notion mostly went over well, and I pledged to write about it. I’m beginning here on WillVideoForFood.com and I’ve posted it on Scribd (a good way to distribute and SEO-optimize your writing if you can’t afford PRWeb or PRNewswire). If you’re a blogger or publisher, I invite you to use part or all of this with attribution… and hope to fancy it up for a magazine.

I have four sources of inspiration for this concept:

  • ImprovEverywhere’s Charlie Todd, who I’m connected to in an odd way that falls between friend and fan. It’s a parasocial relationship, but since I’ve met him and he returns my phone calls or e-mails I’m allowing myself to call dub the “Causing a Scene” author a “virtual colleague.” I was struck with how well he does media, and I attribute that to his experience as both an improv comic and advanced teacher of the discipline. Todd, in fact, was who encouraged me to enroll in the wildly heralded UCB Theater in NYC. I’d later, sadly, become an improv-school dropout because I lost my financial excuse to visit NYC weekly and my dad died. But I’ll do it again.
  • I did significant research to prepare for my Improv Comedy course, and learned a tremendous amount in the early classes. My goal was not to become an improv comic, but understand how improvisational skills might translate to my work and life. Like you, perhaps, I often default to “fighting the wind” (arguing the inevitable), which can be empowering but both exhausting and unsustainable. So I hoped to learn new ways to “roll with life” or “go with the flow.” One of my favorite affirmations is “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference” (source). How many of life’s “problems” would vanish if we gave ourselves that rare gift?
  • I’ve also had lengthy conversations with Melissa Katz, a former colleague at Johnson & Johnson who oversaw Centocor’s public relations. She’s a former improv comic, and helped me understand how many of the tenets of improvisational comedy translate to corporate or public-relations.
  • Finally, David Alger is one of many improv-comics that crystalized the basic “rules” of improv comedy, and I hope to help you see how some of these rules apply to your social-media presence. I quote him simply because he ranked high on Google SEOs for “improv comedy rules,” but there’s no shortage of wisdom on improvisational comedy. I’m quite sure there are dozens of other applicable rules I’ve left out (like being honest, a truism in both improv and social-media).

So forgive me for being an improv-comic dropout, but trust that what I learned in my first portion of the class will help you either find a good social-media expert or nurture one who is. I give you “The Seven Reasons Your Social-Media Expert Should Be an Improvisational Comic.”

(oh- you gotta hit “more” to read them).

Continue reading “Why Your Social-Media Expert Should Be an Improv Comic: 7 Reasons”

Napkin Musical Prank Punks Entire Food Court

Improv Everywhere Food Court MusicalThe folks at Improv Everywhere have done it again. This one gave me goose bumps. A spontanious musical number has an entire food court baffled. When security arrives, things get even more interesting.

I give you “Food Court Musical.”

Seriously. Does anyone know these people? I’ve been trying to get into the secret mailing list FOREVER. Guys, Improv Everywhere folks. I’ve done Farting in Public. Mall Pranks. Chicken Pranks. Mother’s Day Prank. Ice Cream Prank. Mad Turkey. Prank the Garbage Man.

Let me in. I can work in an ensemble. I can get to NYC on short notice. I have no shame.

NOTE: I heard from Charlie Todd last night, and joined the Improv Everywhere Ning. Fingers crossed!