I got the Save-the-date in my inbox a couple of days ago and when I looked at the gorgeous, silly, ridiculous pic that my friends had chosen it was obvious. These were the fun guys. These were the cool ous. These were the cheeky clever ones. And I was so happy again because they are getting married. I am talking about my lovely friend Candice D’Arcy, and her Oz beau Mark Gambino.
This is the story of how they met, according to me, and why I totally adore the fact that they found each other and are good together. I take full responsibility for embellishing the story to make my point. This is my version of their story. (I have asked permission to write about them, in case you got nervous.)
In 2012 Candice D’Arcy, Tandi Buchan and I decided to travel literally half way around the world to participate in an improvisation festival, Improvention, in Canberra, Australia. I had seen the festival on facebum and decided that I really wanted to go, and Tandi and Candice were also very keen. And so we went. It was our first real exposure to improv outside our own little company (aside from the few workshops we had had from people like Joe Bill) and our heads improded with it all. It was life changing for me, and more so for Candice, who had been spotted by Melbourne improviser (the guy who we all thought was beyond amazing in Jason Geary’s long form improv format Fat City).
Anyway, the details of how they hooked up, made it work, had a long distance relationship, are in a long distance engagement, and are soon to be married shall remain theirs.
What really excites me about their story is that they are both improvisers. Now I am projecting here, but I am convinced that the rules (if you can call them that), skills and habits of improvisers are the best ones to use in relationships. These habits and character traits are the exact opposite of those of actors (even though there are some in common, like showing off, loving an audience, enjoying success), and they are all relationship building habits. And they work.
Here are a few of them in no particular order.
1. Yes, let’s. This is a silly, lovely warm up game, and a philosophy. It is the response. Now, close your eyes and say this as the answer to every offer (no, not ever the disgusting ones). So often we write negative scripts in our lives because we default to the no. We are used to it. Improvisers are trained into the yes, let’s of games, and it spills over into live. It is the best default ever.
2. Listening. The most important thing to do in improv is to listen. You have no idea what’s going to happen next and you need to make sure you hear what your team mates are saying and doing. Really listen, without waiting to answer. Really hear. To do that you have to be present, open and available. Now take those three things and bring them to a relationship and suddenly beautiful things happen.
3. Make your partner look, feel and sound brilliant. In improv it’s no good if you are the hero and the rest of your team are in the shadow of your singular brilliance. You are brilliant when your whole team shines, and that is your intention; to make everyone in your team be the absolutely most brilliant they can be. That’s when the magic happens. In relationships if you are always wanting that for your partner, wanting them to be the best that they can be, you won’t (often) go to the place of jealousy, need and blame.
4. Be on the same team. Improv (unless it is one man improv) is teamwork. Bang goes for relationships.
5. Have fun. If you aren’t, you are doing it wrong. Both.
6. Roll with them punches. One of the best things about improv is that you have to expect the unexpected. When you are making things up the world is fun, exciting and unpredictable. You take what you get and make that lemonade. In relationships, I have heard the experts say that predictability is death. I wouldn’t know, since nothing about my life, work or world is. And this is great in relationships too. Be ready for anything, and you will always be amazed, surprised and delighted.
7. A sense of humus.
8. Feel the love. One of my favourite things about improv is when you are in the groove, and it’s easy and joyous and delicious. That usually happens when the audience, you, and your team mates come together in that magical place. On the one hand you make it, on the other, you receive it.