Tina Fey’s Rules of Improv

tina_feyI recently read Tina Fey’s memoir, Bossypants, and I found it a fantastically funny, entertaining read. Told in episodic essays, Fey relays her unexpected rise in the ranks of theater to improv to “Saturday Night Live” to her show “30 Rock.”

But what has stayed with me the most, and what has been much discussed among my colleagues who also read the book, are Fey’s Rules of Improv, or as she labels the two-page spread in the book: Rules of Improvisation That Will Change Your Life and Reduce Belly Fat

I would reproduce those two pages from Bossypants in their entirety here, but that wouldn’t really be a good idea–I do want Ms. Fey to gain some revenue for her genius–plus, the link above does a fair job of it.

But here are Fey’s Rules of Improv, in a nutshell:

Rule # 1: Agree

[T]he Rule of Agreement reminds you to “respect what your partner has created” and to at least start from an open-minded place. Start with a YES and see where it takes you.

Rule #2: Yes, and…

YES, AND means don’t be afraid to contribute. It’s your responsibility to contribute. Always make sure you’re adding something to the discussion. Your initiations are worthwhile.

Rule #3: Make statements

Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles.

Rule #4: There are no mistakes

In improv, there are no mistakes, only beautiful happy accidents.

Tina Fey’s Rules of Improv could apply to so many things–the workplace, parenting, etc.

Oh, and they can help book groups, too! Here is an article that includes these points and provides a bit more depth as to how it could apply to book group discussion.

Thank you, Tina Fey, for the laughs and the most freeing “rules” ever invented!

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About the Author:

Misha Stone is a readers' advisory librarian with The Seattle Public Library. Follow her on Twitter at @ahsimlibrarian.

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