Stevie Ray, Minnesota’s comedy and improvisation historian, started his career producing comedy shows at a club in Uptown. What is he up to? This 1st of 3 mentoring sessions is packed with history and ways to use improvisation in your everyday life. Be ready to take notes.
In 1989 Stevie Ray’s Improv Company was born in Minneapolis with co-founder Pamela Mayne. He shares the history of improv and how improv has evolved into becoming a skill you need for life!
Stevie Ray is a corporate speaker and trainer across the country for over 25 years. He’s a nationally syndicated columnist for the Business Journal newspapers and the author of nine books including Quick Thinking For Any Situation, The Calm Before the Brainstorm, and Speaking In Public Without Sweating In Private. His books have been read by nearly every one of his family members.
In addition to his corporate work, Stevie is also a professional entertainer and has performed with such stars as Weird Al Yankovic and Paula Poundstone. Paula’s quick-thinking, unscripted approach to comedy makes for a perfect fit as a regular panelist on NPR’s #1 show, the screwball weekly news quiz show WAIT WAIT…DON’T TELL ME! where she holds the record for game losses. “The others cheat,” she says magnanimously, “you wouldn’t think NPR would put up with that.” (www.paulapoundstone.com)
Improv games were created by Viola Spolen in the 1930s. Initially, Viola developed improv games to help Polish, Italian, and German immigrants overcome language barriers in Chicago. Her son, Paul Sills along with Bernard Sahlins, and Howard Alk founded Second City Theatre in Chicago in 1959. It is still a place where scenes and story are created improvisationally, using Spolen’s techniques.
Almost 100% of Saturday Night Live cast members are trained in improv. Many times improv is used as a writing and training tool involving audience members after a taped show.
Improv has rules, Stevie says, to help expand the brains ability to be creative. Viola formalized the Yes And rule to overcome negating, a way people dismiss your ideas. Negating is a conversation stopper. Learn the Yes And rule so you can use this technique in connecting with others this week.
Stevie Ray also sells the world’s greatest food, honey. He has four bee hives. Steve’s Bees Minnesota honey can be found at https://www.facebook.com/Steves-Bees-150135721676530/
Almost 100% of actors from Saturday Night Live have improv training except Eddie Murphy. He used perseverance and persistence to get on the show. Neuroscience of the brain mirrors the games played in improvisation. Improv is designed to wake the brain up.
The brain is good at narrow focusing. Improv helps to utilize the whole brain. To pop the brain up all at once, which takes a lot of energy. Now it is proven to be healthy for the brain. Ninety percent of communicating is listening, the other 10% is working well with others. Both skills take lots of brainpower.
In Episode 41 we discussed empathic listening. Stevie Ray validates the importance of listening. Trust yourself and trust your partner.
What are in-house improv troupes and what is their function? This is one of three mentoring sessions with Stevie Ray, enjoy!
Download this episode. (right click to download)
Listening engages your whole brain. In every conversation this week, challenge yourself when talking to others to listen carefully. Find ways to say yes, and continue the conversation staying focused on the other person. Delete ‘no but’ from your vocabulary. Replace it with ‘yes and’. Add something. It will change how others feel when talking with you. It also helps to avoid an argument because the other person is always right in that scenario.
Improvisation Guru Stevie Ray, Episode #43 www.stevieray.org
Next Monday’s Mentoring Conversation:
Stevie Ray will be back in the studio for a second mentoring session. You won’t want to miss it!