October 19, 2009

Three Serious Lessons from The Second City Comedy Troupe

You can see a lot by just looking.
--- Yogi Berra

Shut Up And Show Us Your Tweets! That's the title of a new show by The Second City comedy troupe in Toronto. As a bonus, a set of live improv follows each performance.

You laugh and laugh. You even learn lessons. Here are three:
  1. Toil to shine
  2. Embrace risk
  3. Give free samples
Let's examine them.

Toil To Shine
If you don't sweat in private, you'll sweat in public. Practicing in private is better and less embarrassing.

The performance ran smoothly, with no obvious mistakes. This precision takes practice, which shows. What attention to detail. The actors said the right lines the right way at the right time. The right lighting illuminated the right spot at the right time. The right sound effects played at the right volume at the right time. We laughed and clapped on cue too.

Practice makes you a master ready to seize the opportunities that arise.

The cast of six showed mastery of their craft. Best wishes for continuing success to Rob Baker, Dale Boyer, Adam Cawley, Darryl Hinds, Caitlin Howden, and Reid Janisse. While they wait for greater opportunities to shine, they're satisfying the 10,000 hour rule. Time well spent.

You can also invest in becoming your best. What's the downside?

Embrace Risk
Mama always told me not to look into the sights of the sun
Oh but mama that's where the fun is
--- Bruce Springsteen, Blinded By The Light
Improvisational comedy is risky and that's part of the appeal. You can't tell what's going to work and each performance is different. You might flop, but if you fail like Apple you get better next time. You reduce the risk of failure with a skilled, attentive team. Each member pays attention and contributes the best they can in that moment.

Collaboration is also the key to success for advisors, according to McKinsey and LIMRA.

Free Samples
After the main show, the doors opened for free improvisation. I thought this meant that anyone could get on stage --- not a welcome prospect. Instead, they meant that anyone could watch for free.

By removing the cost barrier, the troupe let anyone see them in action. Some passersby who dropped in probably bought drinks and perhaps tickets for a future show. This is the first universal principle of influence in action: reciprocity.

How can you offer free no-risk samples? Perhaps via seminars (live or recorded) or articles (ideally accessible online).

Even if you forget the jokes as you leave the venue, you'll remember the fun you had. What a great lure to return for more. And to bring others with you.


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