Yes and…. How Improv Teaches Loyalty

improv comedyIn our 20’s, my wife took improv classes at a really cool studio on Fairfax in Los Angeles right next to the famous Canter’s deli. Her comedy troupe “Mama Likes it” headlined there Friday nights for almost a year and I was always in the front row and stood proud watching Wifey be funny, along with her talented colleagues. I learned from her training is that rule #1 in improv is to never, ever resist your partner’s suggestion. In other words, no matter what is said, your response needs to reflect the sentiment of “Yes, and…” To summarize, improv training teaches individuals to trust one another and to follow along, no matter where it may take you. And, yes, no matter the cost. Trust your partner. I took this as advice for life and have never deviated.

When it comes to loyalty, I’ve always told people, “Look. I’m from Jersey.” However, I’ve grown to understand how rare true loyalty actually is. I remember one day when I was ten years old in New Jersey. I was playing with my Lego set, trying to rebuild the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander I got from a few birthdays ago. My dad came in and started playing with me, helping with my effort. After a few minutes of bonding, he stopped. He looked and me and said, “Robbie. Most people you know aren’t really your friends. In your entire life, you will only have enough real friends to count on one hand. These are people you can count on no matter what.” I took this to heart.

To any human with substance, loyalty is the fabric of humanity. It’s about having someone’s back no matter the cost, and also no matter how outrageous your friend happens to be acting at the time. When I tell you I’m your friend I’m saying, “I’m your bullet proof vest. I may not survive but, if I have anything to do with it, you god damned will.” If he/she is talking out of their ass, you have their back. Even if it’s unpopular. Even if they say something in a bar that makes a very large hairy, sweaty dude angry. Even if it puts you in the crosshairs financially in your particular industry.

Despite what the cool kids may want you to believe, our existence does not end when we get hit by the inevitable bus that has our name on it. I’m not talking about our souls and spirits, although I have my beliefs in that area. I’m speaking of legacy. This is what matters most and will resonate. If there is such thing as eternal life (and I believe there is), it darned well includes your legacy and how you placed others before yourself.

In the day and age of social media ‘friends’, ally yourself with people you will always be your “Yes and…” person. Your bullet proof vest. And be that for them.

Now, I’m going to finish my coffee.

Stain on blog from Rob's coffee cup