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Ryan StilesI was a huge fan of Whose Line Is It Anyway, the British and later US improv comedy show. Those guys and gals were amazing. Having watched a lot of bad improv I can appreciate how difficult it must be to pull this off successfully so I wanted to learn the secrets of the trade.

Using the search phrase “improv comedy rules” I found that nearly all of the sites list the number one rule as “Do Not Block”. Blocking is when one actor sets up a line like “my you are a fine looking rooster” and the other doesn’t like the setup so replies with “I’m not a rooster, I’m a penguin” because he knows that penguins are funnier. This is never funny, it insults the previous comedian, and actually makes the newly self-titled penguin look weak – he wasn’t up to the task given to him.

It dawned on me that I see the same roosters and penguins conversation daily at work; Continue Reading…

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Stuck in the Middle With You

joe —  Sun 3-Oct-10
Pocket

I once worked with a great friend that loved to pull pranks. Let’s call him Dave, um, because that’s his name. Due to the advent of caller id Dave has had to retire one of his longest running pranks – the 3 Way.

Dave would get the phone numbers of two people or organizations that were either competitors or often had passionate but radically opposing views. With his multi-line phone and very quick fingers he would put his phone on mute, call both numbers, and bridge them together. This left each side wondering why the other had called them and the ensuing conversation of discovery left us in stitches. I’ll never forget the day that he Continue Reading…

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Your Mother Wears Combat Boots

joe —  Sun 27-Jun-10
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Did you ever watch someone apply their best mental jujitsu in a heated discussion only to see them flame out with a look of “what just happened?” Not only have I seen this, I seem to be a regular participant.

One of the reasons it happens to me is that I make a simple incorrect assumption about how to approach the other person. While I think I am doing the right thing the Law of Unintended Consequences comes Continue Reading…

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