Creative Mondays #054 – Be a kid again.
My improv teacher, Patrick Bristow, was once telling me about the first trip that Puppet Up! Uncensored took to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. As part of the deal with the festival, the troupe had to do shows for families in addition to doing the regular, uncensored, shows. Patrick says that he noticed that while these family friendly shows were well received, they weren’t the laugh riot that the usual, Uncensored, shows are. Now, one might that that the reason for this may have been because the troupe was trying to hard to keep things PG and were therefore off their game, but Patrick has other thoughts.
Patrick feels that the reason those shows weren’t bust a gut funny is because kids do not find improv as funny as adults do. Why? Because kids, for the most part, spend a ton of time during the day improving on their own. It’s called make believe, pretend, playing. Ever see kids playing with dolls or action figures and they are doing the voices and working out scenarios? They are improvising. And while I’m sure they loved seeing improvising with puppets, they just didn’t get how hard it was because the people on stage were doing exactly what they do every day. As adults, we think improv is funny (or at least some of us do) because we don’t get to play every day. We have work and responsibilities and all that other stupid stuff.
Remember how you used to play as a kid? How you could while away hours just…making stuff up? I sure do. I would set up elaborate battle scenarios with my G.I. Joes and then methodically play them all out. That would eat up a whole afternoon, from lunchtime till dinner. If I wasn’t doing that I would be setting up, just as elaborate, shows with my stuffed animals as stars. Or I’d record hours of audio into my little red tape recorder and then play it back. I loved making stuff up.
As an artist, you have to have that same passion for making stuff up. Hopefully it hasn’t been drummed out of you by ‘real life.’ Hopefully you still see the joy in just goofing off and making things up. Playing. Improvising. When I’m out shopping at a CVS or Rite Aid or Target, I get what I came to get, but I always take a small trip down the toy aisle to see what is in stock. The kid in me eta excited to look over all the goodies that are there. I, usually, leave without buying any toys, but that walk down the toy aisle will rekindle the ‘kid’ in me and will remind me to play a little bit. And when I’m playing, I always feel more creative.
So this week, find some time to, simply, play. Take a walk down the toy aisle. Or go somewhere, theme park or special restaurant, that will rekindle that kid inside you and see if it helps kickstart your creativity. This week, take a field trip for that kid inside you.
Let me know in the comments below how you keep your ‘kid’ alive in your creativity. And if you did take a field trip for the kid inside you, let us know where you went and what happened.